Thursday, April 26, 2012

Single Reviews 29/04/12

Welcome to this week’s Single Reviews, in which we find out which genre a one-man band is tackling this week, discover the reality TV ‘sad music’ of the future, slip in a negative remark about Rihanna, and try to review Tulisa without mentioning her sex tape. Although this probably counts as a reference itself, doesn’t it? Oh well, we blew that one. BA-BOOM-TISH! Thank you, we’re here all week.

The debut solo single from First Lady of N-Dubz and Tiresome X Factor Misha-Baiter, the aforementioned Tulisa, is first on the chopping block this week. Young is a ‘hey-aren’t-we-crayzee’ Ibiza cliché-fest, all predictable keyboard stabs and constructed abandon. For all N-Dubz’ failings, at least they had a modicum of originality in their output. Were it not for the desperate attempts to amplify Tulisa’s profile, this would be eternally forgotten on the lamest of compilation house CDs.

Single of the Week is given to Get Cape.Wear Cape. Fly, with a strikingly different offering in the form of Daylight Robbery. Admittedly, Sam Duckworth has become one of the most unpredictable artists of recent years, switching from shoegazing indie to atonal drum ‘n’ bass without any warning. Daylight Robbery boasts an immediacy nothing in Duckworth’s catalogue can lay claim to, armed with an exhilarating pop hook that could well make the track his new calling card.

Snow Patrol unveil perhaps their most introverted, mellow single thus far, the modest but highly effective New York. The unassuming verses are made all the more effective when the final chorus swells into a refined crescendo, while Gary Lightbody’s voice presents a real poignancy throughout. Anyone desperate for another Run could do a lot worse than give New York a few repeated spins, but such comparisons would detract from what’s actually a significantly more mature offering.

And finally, proving that a certain dead-eyed, atonal cumsponge is by no means the best Barbados has to offer (whoever could we mean?), Cover Drive follow up their Ashley Tabor-instigated Number One with Sparks, a hard-edged demi-ballad with a sweet, enchanting melody. The juxtaposition of male and female vocals is an effective one, plus there’s a real craft evident in what Cover Drive do. Plus, they’re mentored by Eddy Grant, which = ace.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Single Reviews 15/04/12

Greetings, and a belated Happy Easter. And a belated Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and Happy Valentine’s Day too. Yes, we know updates have been sparse of late, for which we apologise, but... um... the dog ate our homework. Anyway, we’re here now, with some lovely Single Reviews just for you (and we can guarantee this is one of the few media outlets on the globe that isn’t harping on about the sodding Titanic this week).

Opening the show is (are?) Marina & The Diamonds, with what’s arguably the greatest track of her (their?) career this far. Seriously, these soloists with their stupid band-sounding monikers need to cut that shit right out. Primadonna jumps between a fluttering, perfumed ballad and a crunching electro beat, her high, dramatic vocals selling the story convincingly. In short, it’s impressive stuff.

A slightly less appealing offering comes from Brighton newcomer Conor Maynard, whose tweenage chestnut-fest Can’t Say No is every Noughties boyband cliché squished up into one miserable song. Clearly, there’s some sort of boardroom-based attempt to forge a British Bieber here, but you can’t help imagine Maynard would be a whole lot happier doing something very, very different.

Sorry For Party Rocking, the latest wretched, juvenile effort from LMFAO, has been doing the rounds for some time, but only gets its official release this week. Mind you, it’s hard to differentiate this from anything else they’ve recorded. Yes, you like girls and dancing and drinking. But let’s break this down to what it is: an uncle and nephew, both old enough to know better, dancing in their pants.

And finally, a well-deserved Single of the Week is bestowed upon fun. featuring Janelle Monae, with the anthem-in-waiting We Are Young. Enjoy it while you can, because it’ll soon be sacrificed to the Gods of Overkill. The astonishing fusion of indie sensibilities and hip-hop wizardly, the atypical changes of pace, the gentle twinkle of Monae’s humble contribution, and the marathon chorus make for something very special indeed.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Lostprophets - Weapons (RCA)

Lostprophets are a band who’ve yet to produce an album anything close to sub-par. Their singles catalogue is a line-up of vigorous, charismatic Britrock gems, while their track record of albums is arguably even more impressive. Their brand of intense, brawny rock hasn’t waned for a single bar in a 12-year career, and fifth album Weapons suggests it won’t be happening anytime soon.

Admittedly, they could still get away with the raucous drama of The Fake Sound of Progress if they wanted, given they don't actually appear to age. But rather than opting to rest on their laurels, there's a definite progression on Weapons, and it does them good.

It would be wrong to say they’ve mellowed – it's still heavy, it's still powerful, it's still assertive. The big licks of A Song For Where I’m From don’t hold back, while the confrontational call-to-arms We Bring An Arsenal has all the gusto of Shinobi vs Dragon Ninja. But as a band, they sound tighter than they've ever sounded, making for a clean, more immediate tone.

Somedays shows a softer tone to Ian Watkins' vocals, while the secret track tacked onto closer Can’t Get Enough balances melodic splendour with a balls-out metal screech. Meanwhile, the countless man-hours spent during promotional rounds in a post-Linkin Park world where the band were forced to explain how they weren’t rock-rap were evidently in vain, with Better Off Dead seeing Watkins spit a few unexpected verses. It’s novel enough, and functions nicely as a mid-album surprise, but hopefully it’s not a hint of a more permanent direction.

But there’s little to be said about Weapons that isn’t sickeningly positive. As an album, it’s absorbing, it’s entertaining, it’s rousing, and it keeps Lostprophets’ perfect scoresheet intact. And they make maintaining this level of quality seem like a breeze. Everything that’s ever been great about Lostprophets is still very much in place, but it’s been honed and polished into an effective, engaging update. They must be frickin’ exhausted.
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