Friday, July 24, 2009

Single Reviews 27/07/09

We’re baa-aack! Go on, admit it – we had you proper worried last week, didn’t we? Alas, twas merely a joke that we’d posted the last Single Reviews ever. You could practically hear the internet sweating with anxiety at the very thought. (Genuinely, one concerned reader did think we were serious. Bless.)

BeyoncĂ© is first under the spotlight this week – though, let’s face it; when is she not in the spotlight? – with the jagged venom-pop of Sweet Dreams. Usually by this point, she’s round to releasing the filler of her albums, so the fact there’s been a wealth of killer singles from I Am... Sasha Fierce suggests it may be her best record to date. Shame its title is so rubbish.

Having already enchanted the world with the brilliantly confusing psychosis of Boom Boom Pow, the generally-quite-shit (but recently scarily good) Black Eyed Peas continue to work their voodoo with I Gotta Feeling. While we can’t ignore the oh-so-wack grammar (not that I Got A Feeling would even be correct), it’s an infectious, Eurothumping beast simultaneously boasting everything we could ever love AND hate about the Black Eyed Peas.

And lastly, we take a ride aboard the Smug Express – the very same Mr Hudson we championed back in 2007 (albeit, when he had a Library attached) is finally on the brink of the success he deserves. Supernova sees him hooking up with Kanye West, and ditching the lovable English gent schtick in favour of a more twiddled, anthemic sound, and it certainly pays off. An easy Single of the Week.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Single Reviews 13/07/09

Ladies and gents, we regret to inform you this is our last ever Single Reviews, as we’ve been fired and replaced by Alesha Dixon. Of course, she’s skilled in all areas, so she’ll simultaneously be filling the roles of Sky News anchor, Shadow Health Secretary, midfield for the England squad, and both ends of Snuffleupagus in Sesame Street. In short: bad move, love.

Green Day begin our inspection process with a track lifted from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – thankfully, the song’s quality has no correlation to that of the fucking atrocious film. While its similarity to Boulevard of Broken Dreams is hard to ignore, the inimitable melding of melodic verses giving way for hard, forceful choruses makes 21 Guns a classic example of Green Day greatness.

X Factor silver medallists JLS make their debut this week, equipped with a tune significantly better than probably even the band themselves expected. Beat Again is far from the average boyband fare, instead a lively, slick, American sound that actually complements the band rather well. Now, when can we expect a release from Ruth Lorenzo?

Something called Alina is up next, with a cover of O-Zone’s inexplicable 2004 hit Dragostea Din Tei, classily renamed When You Leave (Numa Numa). T.I. and Rihanna sampling it was bizarre enough, but just about pulled it off on grounds of intense irony. However, a faceless Euroslag taking it on whilst openly defecating on the invention of the vocoder is a whole other matter. Turns out Basshunter is involved though, which sort of explains things.

And finally, Single of the Week is awarded to Square1 featuring Siobhan Donaghy, who unveil the deliciously dark Styfling to, one must presume, an audience of approximately three. The underperformance of Donaghy is consistently frustrating, but the trippy, atmospheric beats do her talents justice, and hopefully serve as a taster for her next inevitably-genius album.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Colin MacIntyre - Island (Future God Recordings)

Right, first things first, let’s address the hair. We’re not going to go a whole album review without making reference to the fact Colin MacIntyre has the same hairdo as Susan Boyle, and that he looks all kinds of ridiculous. There. Now that’s out of the way, we'll begin.

However, the comedy hair is no insinuation of a light-hearted, jovial pop record. His fifth album – second under his real moniker, following last year’s triumphant anthemfest, The Water – sees a different route altogether.

A sombre, slower affair than any previous material, Island is a wholly original route for MacIntyre. While preceding albums – both under the guise of Mull Historical Society and as himself – all possessed their share of subdued balladry, their presence alongside bigger, crunchier, more experimental indie-pop numbers gave them their own appeal. Sadly, on Island, tracks blend into one another far too easily, and it’ll take a great deal of careful, assiduous listening to appreciate the subtleties on show here.

It’s the most stylised and specific album he’s put out to date, and as such, may lose fans as a result. By no means is there any dip in quality, but the uptempo power-indie of Watching Xanadu or Famous For Being Famous is light years away. No Ordinary Queen is the closest you’ll find to the aforementioned volume-crankers, bubbling along gently with a jittery drumbeat and just a touch of eccentricity, but even then, is vastly removed from what MacIntyre has come to be known and loved for.

That said, the more introverted, hushed vibe may, in turn, win over a whole new army of folk-lite followers. And it’s hard not to be touched by the placid beauty of sonnets like Ned’s Song or Stay Something – it’s just a matter of adjusting your mindset to the new Colin MacIntyre. But the key thing to note is that Island, for all its variances, still is Colin MacIntyre, and if that’s not an indication of affable musical excellence, then nothing is.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Single Reviews 06/07/09

We had planned to pitch our Single Reviews as a Wimbledon-free zone, on account of there being approximately zero media outlets not gushing shamelessly about Andy Murray (incidentally, the most boring creature on the face of God’s green Earth). However, with him now out, we shall take the opportunity to gloat in his defeat and in the general dullness of tennis overall. Now, let us stop slagging off sport and get back to slagging off music...

First up are the reliable yet constantly surprising Franz Ferdinand, with a dimly-lit oddity of intelligence in the form of Can’t Stop Feeling. Filthily squelchy bass and disco beats further indicate the dancefloor-beckoning oeuvre the band have addressed on their third album, and while it may not be on a par with previous stuff, there’s little to find fault with.

We’ve never minced our words about Lady GaGa previously, but the hapless exercise in electro-cliche that is Paparazzi only gives us further cause to spew venom forth. If this were an offering from her second album, fine. But the sheer contrived cheek of a then-unknown whinging about press intrusion only cements what a cheap, disingenuous, manufactured tramp Lady GaGa really is. Is anyone even surprised?

The vigorous indie clout of Tin Man makes Saaf London collective Animal Kingdom well-deserved recipients of Single of the Week. A big, swirling, atmospheric rock gem, there’s a distinct correlation between how high the volume is and how good the song sounds. Mind you, transpose the specifics and the same could be said of Lady GaGa – she sounds fucking awesome with the sound right down.

And only just missing out on the aforementioned title is the magnificent VV Brown, though we’re sure she won’t mind, given that we’ve heard her album and it’s a strong contender for best of 2009. In the meantime, new single Shark In The Water is a lilting indie-pop ditty making way for a marvellously noxious chorus, serving as an ad for both her eclecticism and her utter brilliance.
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