Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Sloppy Dog SpiceWatch

So finally, we get round to executing another entry in our new SpiceWatch series. Not that it’s out of laziness (unlike the ‘Ump, Album Reviews, and don’t even mention the Celebrity News). Finally, we’ve actually got something new to write about. A photo.

But wait! Stick with us, readers - it’s so much more than just a photo! To the average layman, it’s merely a picture of some ladies in their thirties. Nothing more, nothing less. Well, maybe perhaps the cover of the 2007 W.I. calendar, but that’s about the extent of it. Yet to a Spice fan, it’s an incomprehensible stammer of sweaty, excitable textspeak and involuntary on-the-spot jiggling.

So, for those of you who don’t see the world through Spice-branded glasses sold exclusively through Asda back in the 1997 merchandising explosion, allow us to provide a deconstruction of the photo girl-by-girl, starting from the bottom and working clockwise.

- A strategically-positioned-for-purposes-of-pregnancy-veiling The Bunto™.

- A shopper handed an Elegant Portrait Studio flyer outside Allders of Croydon, genuinely flattered because she doesn’t realise they’ve been disseminated to every single passer-by since 8am. Look! She’s had her hair done for the shoot and everything! Secretly, she wishes they’d used the nice pastel background like that one in reception with the ugly twin babies on it, but she won’t let that ruin her day of glamour, oh no.

- “Please Nancy, call the police. Look into my eyes… no, really look. You can understand me, I know you can. Just call the police and it’ll be alright. And tell them to hurry.”

- If things were just a tad more gay here at Sloppy Dog Towers, this would be the very definition of ‘fierce’. **finger-snaps**

- The stark realisation that straight hair means a far smaller Scary-to-others ratio than the world - or Mel B herself - is used to. Expect a rethought voluminous Uber-Afro by the first live show.

However, the importance of this photo is not the individual analyses, but the overall sum of its parts. The mere existence of a brand new studio shot is reason enough to invoke a global squeeing on a par with Enrique Iglesias simultaneously attending a billion hen parties. In short, we’re allowing ourselves to get more and more keyed up about the upcoming reunion, and hey - at the very least, it’s better than the vile Forever cover.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Single Reviews 23/07/07

Oops! Once again, the Single Reviews are a teensy bit late. We figure a valid excuse would be to inform you that we were stuck in the middle of a motorway as a result of the flash flooding, but we were in fact enjoying the Cornish sunshine. Go on, go ahead and be jealous, we won’t resent you for it.

First up, Tell Me What We’re Gonna Do Now sees everyone’s least favourite purveyor of confused Atlantic accents, Joss Stone, coming over all Wyclef. It’s a vast improvement on the tuneless Tell Me ‘Bout It, perhaps aided by the presence of Common, but more likely the fact that it shows off the talent beneath the purple barnet and the criticism, and even more likely the fact it has an actual melody.

Funeral For A Friend drift even further away from their rock roots and closer to Best Mother’s Day Ever compilation territory with Walk Away. Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration - it’s actually far more effective than earlier material and certainly not without balls - there’s a long way to go til it’s spun by Jamie ‘n’ Harriet. In fact, Walk Away earns our Single of the Week - top marks for use of a key change, lads.

Next, three minutes of electro-thrusting and general squelchy goodness from Timbaland & Keri Hilson, with the impressive The Way I Are (bad grammar is normally a Sloppy Dog bugbear, but we approve wholeheartedly when it’s on purpose). Seemingly a platform for newcomer Hilson to prove herself more than another slice of Timbaland, but works rather nicely all the same.

Lastly, yet another release from poodle ’n’ kraken amalgam, shatterer of windows, musical shit-spreader and all-round used economy tampon Mika. As if his previous two acts of ear-rape weren’t bad enough, Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) is equally shit AND endorses obesity. Quick, get Jamie Oliver in to kick seven shades of shit out of the little bastard. Actually, whoever loses in that battle, it’s win/win for the rest of us.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Single Reviews 16/07/07

Well, what a let down of a week, eh? Still no sign of anything resembling July weather, Live Earth having about as much impact as a bluebottle on the windscreen of a 24-wheel artic, and that monstrous, piggy-eyed little bastard Charley turning what should have been an eviction from hell into the ultimate ego-bath. Hey, why not cheer yourself up with the Single Reviews?

Perpetually-wretched shitmonger Shirley Manson and her backing geriatrics make a return this week, which invokes a “quick, get under the table” reaction after the horrendous last two albums obliterated the legacy of the first two. Thankfully, Tell Me Where It Hurts goes some way to restoring the once-good name of Garbage. Bloody long way to go, mind.

On to an entirely pointless reworking of the Kaiser Chiefs’ Oh My God, which couldn’t have come at a worse time - Ruby saw the band entirely jump the shark, and now one of the few remaining good memories is butchered by Mark Ronson & Lily Allen. There’s a wealth of talent in that coalition, and yet the best they can knock out is a coffee-break cover that barely deserves an acknowledgement. Pitiful.

Next up, another dance-twiddler-meets-pop-bird alliance, albeit a far more worthwhile and effective one. Groove Armada & Mutya Buena team up for the rather skill Song 4 Mutya (Out of Control), a superb bleep-a-long which may or may not be about Amelle. We sort of hope it is. Truth be told, we’re a bit sick of the incessant toadying around this song, but it’s not without reason - in fact, we’re going to hop atop that sodding bandwagon and award this our Single of the Week honour.

Lastly, a more intense, fearsome Jarvis Cocker than we’ve ever knew existed makes an appearance on Fat Children, a high-velocity mezze of hooks and crunches. Imagine the chorus of F.E.E.L.I.N.G. C.A.L.L.E.D. L.O.V.E from Different Class, give it a bit of a sandblast and a coat of 2007, and you’re halfway there. Impressive stuff from a man whose golden days are evidently far from over.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Honking Box Preview: Totally Jodie Marsh

Ah, the good ol’ Totally brand. Tainted with the unmistakeable stench of complete failure after the train wreck monstrosities Totally Scott-Lee and Totally Boyband, surely you’d have to be pretty thick to even consider saying yes when MTV approach you with a proposal for your very own Totally franchise.

Which sort of explains the arrival of Totally Jodie Marsh (not forgetting its dubious subtitle Who’ll Take Her Up The Aisle?), a schadenfreude-jammed account of the Essex swamp-donkey’s day-to-day life. But this isn’t just a regular reality show, folks. No, this is leading up to Jodie’s dream wedding - and all she’s got to do between now and then is find the groom. May we suggest, for starters, a chap who’s had all five senses completely deadened by a bizarre chemical radiation leak?

Just for you, The Sloppy Dog has taken a peek at the first couple of episodes, and in true Totally style, it’s watch-through-your-fingers from start to credits. Remember that feeling during Celebrity Big Brother, where you wanted Jodie to get off her arse and just stand up to Michael Barrymore and George Galloway (because, let’s face it, an over-inflated and over-used terracotta sex doll is preferable to a corpse-fisting non-comedian and a buddy of Saddam)? That feeling is heightened ten-fold here - no other show could induce its viewers to scream “GET SOME SELF-RESPECT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!” at the screen. Well, maybe Blue Peter.

We’ve all seen the groteseque pictures of the press-launch, where Jodie stood atop a wedding cake clad in trademark tit-belts, but Totally Jodie Marsh gets a close-up view of the individual press interviews afterwards, the highlight of which was a showdown with a reporter from Radio 1. When quizzed about her declaration that Preston & Chantelle’s wedding was a publicity stunt, Jodie turns from her usual shade of rust-orange to an enraged vermilion.

She first proclaims that the reporter was a lesbian on account of having short hair, then claims she was jealous of Jodie’s astrophysical levels of beauty, before rounding off with a threat to knock her out. Surely physical attacks against a Radio 1 employee is hugely erroneous? Especially when they’re not Fearne Cotton, Vernon Kay, Tim Westwood, the guy who controls the playlist, Zane Lowe, Reggie Yates, Chris Moyles or any of his team of hollow, grovelling arse-lickers.

Still, the overwhelming tone of Totally Jodie Marsh is one of utter pity. The look of despair on the faces of her poor family throughout is testament to the walking devastation that is Jodie Marsh, and while it makes for genuinely depressing viewing, thank God the cameras are there to capture it - while it may be depressing, it’s damn entertaining all the same.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Single Reviews 09/07/07

Good Lord! What on Earth are you reading this for? Is it really appropriate for you to be sat there with your computer on? No doubt you’ve got some sort of electricity-powered illumination too, eh? Shocking. Just shocking. Did a bunch of strippers singing “loosen up my buttons” to an indifferent audience not teach you ANYTHING about saving the planet? Tut-tut. Well, if you’re gonna burn the Earth, we’re glad you chose to do it in style. Behold the Single Reviews

Thankfully putting the Smashing Pumpkins Tribute Band schtick on a back burner, My Chemical Romance unleash the frenetic, melody-severe Teenagers. Certainly no bad effort, but where this fits in on a concept album of a cancer patient on a bleak journey through the afterlife, we can’t quite calculate. We could listen to the album and find out, but that would mean… well, listening to a My Chemical Romance album.

Leaky-crotched, banshee-voiced, methadone-addled, hip-hop harpy Fergie decides to chill out somewhat on Big Girls Don’t Cry, which you’d imagine is a blessed relief after three self-indulgent uptempo monstrosities. But against all odds, having decided we quite like the Glamorous “if you ain’t got no money, take your broke ass home” lyric, this is just seven shades of beige.

Next up, a heavy dose of futile, ranty cod-house crap, apparently called Bigger Than Big, courtesy of Super Mal featuring Luciana. Ah yes, the same Luciana that brought us the excruciating Yeah Yeah. Love, even Saffron from Republica couldn’t forge a career out of being Saffron from Republica. A decade on, that shit ain’t going to wash with anyone. Now piss off and get yourself a desk job.

Finally, rescuing this week’s reviews from being entirely atrocious are Travis, who claim our Single of the Week with the joint-best track from their quietly-astounding album The Boy With No Name (an incredibly well-written review of which is located here). Energetic, playful, charming and boasting an effective nod to Iggy Pop, it could in fact be one of the greatest tracks of their entire catalogue. Woo-hoo, go Travis, etc etc.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ash - Twilight of the Innocents (Infectious)

If we're looking at things scientifically, Twilight of the Innocents should be a near-perfection article of genius. See, Ash albums have a noticeable pattern. First came the TKO magnificence of debut 1977, followed by the floundering Nu-Clear Sounds. Then the bar was once again raised via the tremendous Free All Angels, making fourth album Meltdown a comparable mess. By rights, this ought to be one of Ash's greatest efforts.

Given that 2001's Free All Angels was effectively an album full of singles, it actually makes sense that Ash have chosen to abandon the album format altogether. That said, this may go down as a foolishly-uttered gimmick based on the content of Twilight of the Innocents. By no means is there anything even resembling filler here, yet at the same time, there's nothing that reaches out and slaps you in the chops as an immediate classic.

Take the heavily American flavour of Blacklisted. All the correct elements are there - robust melodies, crunches in all the right places, unmistakably Ash. But it just lacks the kind of fervour that made them monarchs of the charts and airwaves as well as the music press. And while her solo album would suggest otherwise, perhaps Charlotte Hatherley took the pop sensibilities with her, leaving a far more serious, understated Ash than we're used to, whether they're fencing the stellar ballads or the hormonal, hyperactive rock.

Yet, despite a slight lack of impact, Twilight of the Innocents reveals itself to develop with time, if you're willing to put the hours in. The raw, fiery Princess Six, the jittery drumbeats and breathy harmonies of End of the World, or the mesmerising, hook-brimming Ritual prove that Twilight of the Innocents is, given an ample opportunity, stuffed to the rafters with big riffs, big ideas, and a mighty showcase for the sheer genius of Tim Wheeler.

And yet, the criminally-underachieving masterpiece that is Polaris indicates that perhaps this specific route of slow-burning symphonies might require some revision if the Singles-Only fad is to be pursued. Nonetheless, Twilight of the Innocents is testament to the unmatchable aptitude of one of the UK's greatest contemporary bands. And, on reflection, the songs may not be immediate, but they're nothing if not classics.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Single Reviews 02/07/07

Well, the SpiceWatch column wasn’t totally in vain, was it? Woo-hoo, etc etc. That said, we’re at a loss as to what we’re going to do with it next. No doubt it’ll be dripping with vitriol when we can’t get tickets or Fearne fucking Cotton’s granted an exclusive interview with them. It’ll basically be a Spice-branded ‘Ump. Hey, in the meantime, why not enjoy this week’s Single Reviews?

First up are New Young Pony Club with the bleeps-and-monotony intermingling of Ice Cream. Kind of pointless to release a track that’s provided the soundbed to a thousand factual entertainment montages. Why buy the single when you can hear it accompanying a shot of a fat bird trying on flattering swimsuits during Trinny & Susannah Undress?

Having all but permanently disabled her credibility levels with the infantile Girlfriend, there’s a bit of damage limitation brought into play with When You’re Gone, a stark reminder that Avril Lavigne is supposedly a deep, contemplative, intelligent musician. Whatever, love. We’re actually quite partial to Girlfriend now that the Lil Mama remix has infiltrated the Sloppy Dog internal jukebox - the shame of it.

Marking their comeback with the first new material since reforming are the much-missed Smashing Pumpkins. After the Pumpkins’ signature sound was hijacked by My Chemical Romance for their precious emo tripe, Tarantula sees an essential - and effective - development sound-wise. Active, inventive and highly harmonious, it’s a welcome return and a clear Single of the Week.

Natasha Bedingfield imparts another anthem to send shivers of horror up the spine of every commitment-phobe - or frankly, anyone with ears. While Soulmate wipes the floor with the whinging, catastrophic I Wanna Have Your Babies, it’s still barely listenable. Soppy, overindulgent, watery drivel that proves that the second album curse runs in the family.

Closing proceedings this week is Grip Like A Vice, the brand new single from The Go! Team. It’s a disappointing one, seemingly channelling the weakest aspects of their first album. Low on personality, low on melody, and resultantly, low on any form of appeal, it’s got ‘filler’ stamped all over it. Pity, that.
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