Saturday, August 29, 2009

Single Reviews 31/08/09

We feel it’s perhaps only fitting to acknowledge the passing of Oasis during this week’s Single Reviews. So farewell to a band who, in spite of their achievements and their legacy, were a good decade past their best, couldn’t function in a media rife with music-snobbery, and will most likely be back together in a fortnight, once the Gallagher kiddies have stopped squabbling over the Duplo blocks.

First up, Julian Perretta, a new singer-songwriter who’s somehow gained the unfortunate title of Perez Hilton protégé. As we’d rather not consider what a young man might have to undertake in order to gain such approval from the sweaty, insecure walrus of cuntery, we’ll focus on debut single Wonder Why. The sub-Feeling muso-pop is passable enough, but does little to turn heads or, more importantly, excuse the stigma that comes from a Perez Hilton endorsement.

The Sugababes make a speedy return after the unfortunate under-carpet-sweeping of Catfights & Spotlights, although it remains to be seen if it was a worthwhile exercise. Where Girls was just plain atrocious, the brassy, raucous, Boom-Boom-Pow-channelling Get Sexy redefines the notion of polarising, and yet, we’re still unsure about it. It may be absolutely fucking awesome, but there’s still every chance it completely stinks. We’ll get back to you.

Another girl group in the firing line this week are three-piece infantile-and-proud gobfest, the Dolly Rockers. Their individuality provides a nice break from the stabs at sultry as displayed by their girlband contemporaries, and while the lager-swilling nursery rhyme Gold Digger is undoubtedly catchy, it’ll be interesting to see whether the public can stomach a triple dose of Mini Lily Allens.

And we close things with our Single of the Week, which is brought to us by Friendly Fires. The triumphant, anthemic Kiss of Life is a marriage of immediate melody and understated electro-twiddlage over a thunderous cacophony of drum enchantment. With any luck, it’s the ticket to their first well-deserved Top 40 appearance, although in the kind of chart where Lady GaGa holds three spots, we wouldn’t put money on it. They’ll just have to settle for being awesome.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The 'Ump: Twitter Twats

While it’s safe to say The Sloppy Dog is rarely a beacon of positivity, we’ve done rather well in keeping our rage under control over the past few years. That’s technically our way of dressing up the lack of entries in The ‘Ump column as a good thing – see, surely that’s positivity in itself? Well, we’re bringing the camel out of retirement. Take cover.

Twitter is a funny old thing, isn’t it? It’s sort of like the acceptable face of celebrity stalking, whilst simultaneously providing news outlets with any number of stories off the back of a single 140-character tweet. But recent tweets (and we do feel ashamed at using that word so freely) have shown that bridging the gap between artist and fan isn’t always a good thing.

Sure, Lily Allen uses hers to spout the self-indulgent crap she always peddled on MySpace, albeit in a more concise manner. But Twitter also allows fans – or more accurately, non-fans – to answer back, to agree or disagree as they see fit, and to address her directly. And what’s worse, she often chooses to answer them back.

Let’s face it, Lily Allen could start a fight with her own reflection in a puddle, and the more headlines generated as a result, the better. But there’s a growing trend of artists taking a wee bit too much notice of criticism, musicians with a great deal more self-respect than the likes of Lil.

VV Brown – a superb artist whose underperformance may well be frustrating, but by no means has anything to worry about – has gone to the lengths of penning a song off the back of the pessimistic chattering over at the increasingly-painful Popjustice messageboard, and openly namechecked forum users whose comments she found particularly unpleasant.

Meanwhile, both Adam Lambert and the Lostprophets have recently taken to defending their actions on Twitter, after snarky fans that actively chose to stand in the cold following gigs got stroppy because they didn’t get an autograph. Jesus wept, kiddies! These are working musicians, not half-arsed clowns you can hire out for children’s parties. Presumably, they have a schedule that doesn’t always allow for scribbling their name on a Starbucks napkin 100 times over.

Yes, it’s the fans who put them where they are, and yes, it would be lovely if they could spend time with them. Is it realistic? No. Sadly, however, the sense of entitlement carried by fans lately has grown significantly, perhaps to worrying proportions. Evidently, it’s not enough to support a band, to enjoy their music or to catch them live.

One particular example would be when your fatigued correspondent made shameful peanuts a living working on the deservedly-defunct CD:UK. A particularly psychotic Westlife fan – ugly, dumpy, and old enough to know better – begged for a message to be taken to Mark Feehily, demanding to know whether he’d be attending that evening’s charity ball for Capital FM, as she needed to know ahead of time if she should stand outside or not. There was no real degree of desperation, no archetypal boyband-fan panting. This was out of duty, almost routine on her part. Chillingly so, in fact.

Perhaps this is all a tad hypocritical. After all, The Sloppy Dog itself is a living, breathing criticism behemoth. But there’s a sizeable difference between scrutinising a band’s work, and getting involved in an open slanging match for the entire internet to gleefully observe. Maybe it’s up to the artists to remember their position and not lower themselves to retort to bratty emo whining, but at the same time, they can’t be blamed for wanting to defend themselves. Maybe, then, it’s up to the fans to show a little bit of respect, and to realise there’s a fine line between fandom and being a complete fucking freakshow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Honking Box Review: The Loop

It’s perhaps a somewhat futile exercise to bother with a review of a show that was cancelled two years ago – it’s sort of on a par with pondering what might happen once Rachel sees Ross walks through the Arrivals gate with the Chinese woman.

However, given E4’s acquisition of The Loop, a three-year-old sitcom from Fox, and its bizarrely high level of promotion for it, we feel that it’s in keeping with the questionable celebration of staleness. It would seem that this decision has been made to coincide with the disappointing cancellation of Reaper, though Bret Harrison – for all his charms – was never enough of an impact on the British public to justify E4 doling out televisual methadone to wean viewers off his main vehicle.

Still, if we sat around trying to determine why schedulers make the decisions they make, we’d have a big job ahead of us, and an even bigger headache. So let’s examine The Loop itself – a fast-paced, post-watershed ladcom, which sees Harrison in the role of an airline executive named Sam. Yes, another Sam. As far as typecasting goes, it’s obviously not reaching Danny Dyer levels of one-trick-ponydom, but he’d better hope his next role sees him playing an Archibald or an Agamemnon.

The Loop proudly exemplifies binge drinking, nudity, swearing and is, in effect, one long clumsy Hollywood-interpretation of a frat party. And yet, its presence under the umbrella of all-American ideals mean the drinking always precedes a told-you-so hangover, the nudity is only ever implied via waist-up rear views, and the swearing rarely passes “ass” or “damn”.

It’s rather like jPod as reimagined by the editor of Nuts magazine, and as such, doesn’t even feel like a real sitcom. It functions more as though it were the punchline to a bigger-picture postmodern joke-within-a-joke, like Echo Beach was to Moving Wallpaper, or Room & Bored within The Comeback (ironically, a show that should never have felt the axeman’s blade).

But it’s all a moot point, given that The Loop lasted all of two seasons before getting the inevitable chop, making this review quite the assignment in pissing on someone’s grave. It says a great deal, however, about the all-too-hasty cancellation process in television – particularly US television – and its effect on the shows in question. Watching both The Loop and Reaper feel rather like working in an infirmary, knowing you’re surrounded by those on a very limited clock (although, let the record show, one of them is a luxury infirmary with attractive patients, whilst the other is located in Blackpool and smells of wee).

Knowing that Samantha Who wasn’t even given the opportunity to bow out with dignity is bad enough, but Joss Whedon taking the initiative to film a final episode of Dollhouse just to draw a line under the series should the commissioners decide against a second series is just plain depressing. Thankfully, Dollhouse has received a green light, but the whole process makes for somewhat awkward viewing when you know it's under such intense scrutiny. But, that said, watching The Loop, you realise the axeman is there for a reason. We just wish he got it right more often.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Single Reviews 17/08/09

Welcome to this week's Single Reviews, though we feel we should pre-warn you, it includes another celebration of Mariah Carey's questionable mental health. Meanwhile, those of you not on the digital age bandwagon Twitter can follow our gobshitery via that lovely Twitter feed over there on the right. Isn't it just awesome?

It’s off to a vigorous start courtesy of Busta Rhymes & Estelle, whose insanely energetic dancefloor masterpiece World Go Round does an exceptional job at marrying two remarkable talents. Busta may have just achieved his greatest collaboration to date, and that includes his Touch It give-away-the-farm remix. Genius video too, and only in part thanks to the usage of pigtail weave earrings – no, really. They exist.

Mariah Carey turns the tables on Eminem in the scathing insanity of Obsessed. Much like the peculiar Touch My Body and It's Like That, it’s a frantic gaggle of hilariously daft lyrics lost in a sea of lukewarm R&B spaghetti, although the big European synths are somewhat pleasurable. And brownie points for the “Napoleon complex / Windex” couplet.

Next up, acclaim sponge and general purveyor-of-nothing Little Boots plays on the worryingly ginormous market for electro-buzz with the straight-down-the-line Clubland 67 fodder of Remedy. While comparisons to the vile Lady GaGa are rife, Remedy’s fat thump of a chorus holds more in common with Cascada. As comparisons go, it’s lose/lose really.

And finally, Daniel Merriweather scoops our Single of the Week. While the gushing love-in of Red undoubtedly ticked a necessary box, it’s good to see him back doing what he does best. Uptempo and infectious, Impossible sees a melody so tight that no amount of vocal gymnastics can hinder it – in this case, they only add to its appeal. (N.B. Mark Ronson, when you lay off the brass, THINGS ARE BETTER. Exhibit A right here.)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Single Reviews 10/08/09

With every media outlet stating their position as either Team Peter or Team Slagflaps, we here at The Sloppy Dog feel it’s important to underline that WE DON’T GIVE A RAT’S ASS ABOUT IT, and that such matters are wholly irrelevant in the bigger picture, particularly with far more pressing matters at hand, such as which new music is shit. With that, we bring you this week’s Single Reviews...

The Killers continue to apologise for the iffy-at-best Sam’s Town via the string of staggeringly good singles from Day & Age. Reaffirming the band’s status of awesomeness this week is A Dustland Fairytale, a modestly grand rock ‘n’ roll hymn which seamlessly plasters over our momentary falling-out-of-love (which, admittedly, was aided by poor choices in the facial hair department).

The electro-yawn bandwagon is surely on its final journey, but prior to its inevitable collapse, Preston takes it for an exhilarating spin courtesy of the infectious Dressed To Kill. A sizeable leap on from Ordinary Boys material, yet maintaining that superhuman ear for a mighty melody, it’s an obvious Single of the Week. Now vacate that bandwagon, mate, and let it plunge off the side of the cliff ablaze, with La Roux and fucking GaGa still on board.

As if to prove the point, Sean Kingston – of all people – has hooked up with the tiresome Red One to further dilute the concept of electro. While there’s undoubtedly a simplistic appeal attached to Fire Burning, it doesn’t boast the kind of attention-catching idiosyncrasy as displayed in the still-baffling Beautiful Girls, a track which, in spite of all its shortcomings, he’s unlikely to ever step outside the shadow of.

And bringing the reviews to a close is Paolo Nutini, with the notable Coming Up Easy, which begins life as a gentle, temperate toe-tapper before eventually bursting into a vigorous, brassy summer anthem. Not that we have any need for a summer anthem during this frankly depressing spell, but hopefully the song’s progression will hold some parallels with the weather pattern. Who needs Tomasz Schafernaker when you’ve got us, eh?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Single Reviews 03/10/09

Happy Birthday to us! Happy Birthday to us, etc etc. Well, sort of birthday... this is The Sloppy Dog’s 300th post, would you believe? And to celebrate, you can now use our fancy new URL, – what, were you expecting something more? You should be buying us presents, you cheap sons of bitches. Now eat yer sliver of birthday cake and enjoy the Single Reviews.

Making their debut this week are Girls Can’t Catch (although Phoebe’s already had some Sloppy Dog coverage, as the one member of X Factor girl group Hope that didn’t look the sort to get fingered in a Chicken Cottage) with Keep Your Head Up, a largely typical Saturdays-esque number unlikely to turn many a head. C-, ladies. Must try harder.

After the trite, ill-conceived smut of If You Seek Amy, Britney Spears continues down the route of self-parody with the frankly trying Radar. Robotic vocals, jittery beats and dizzying repetition, it’s the sound of complacency – perhaps not from the lady herself, but from the horde of faceless puppetmasters. We fear Brit’s going the way of Big Brother – omnipresent, predictable and only enjoyed by the rubbishest of gays.

Next up, our Single of the Week, courtesy of Athlete. The stadium-ready electrofiddling of Superhuman Touch doesn’t so much evoke the 80s as it does Keane’s Perfect Symmetry – one would imagine this wasn’t the intended consequence, but it’s certainly no bad thing. Bright, bracing and beguiling, it’s the perfect way to herald in Album #4.

And bringing the reviews to a close is Pink, with the titular offering from the Funhouse album – annoyingly, an album she’s chosen to sell using some of its weakest tracks. Still, slightly iffy lyrics aside, there’s not a lot to fault in Funhouse as a single, providing an opportunity to display both the attitude and the untouchable rock vocal that makes Pink the pop luminary she’s deservedly become.
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