Monday, May 28, 2012

Single Reviews 27/05/12

Yikes. We’re a bit late with the ol’ Single Reviews this week, eh? Nice weather plus birthday celebrations equal slight tardiness. That’s a hint to send well-wishes, by the way. Under scrutiny this time around are a piss-weak ‘we’re-not-a-boyband’ boyband, some 90s bastions of brilliance, the return of an art-rock popstrel, and the rare sight of an X Factor winner with a record deal. So, without any further ado...

Ladyhawke starts us off this week with Sunday Drive, which somehow outclasses even My Delirium as her best offering yet. A heady fusion of cheeky piano and dizzying electro-swizz makes the perfect backdrop for a swooning, covertly-striking, melancholic chorus. The greatest thing to come out of New Zealand since... since... The Almighty Johnsons? Nice backdrops for Hollywood films? Bloody Kimbra? Actually, it’s not all that complimentary, is it?

Meet Lawson, another dreary British boyband who think a few instruments conjures up immediate credibility. Granted, they’ve got more substance than One Direction or The Wanted, but When She Was Mine is a miserable mid-tempo marshland, beyond bland and stuffed to bursting point with tired ideas. Trying to do what BBMak did better 12 years ago probably isn’t the greatest starting point for a career.

Single of the Week is proudly awarded to a band whose output never seems to falter in quality. After a good couple of decades in the proverbial biz, Saint Etienne have got their craft of sophisticated synth-pop down to a fine art, with I’ve Got Your Music the perfect example of infectious but understated house-lite indie we’ve come to love them for. Whose head to we have to put a gun to for this sort of thing to make it onto a playlist?

And finally, the foray into strident Euro-noise continues for Alexandra Burke, and it actually suits her rather well. Let It Go has a marginally more recognisable appeal than previous single Elephant, but overall it’s fairly unimaginative stuff, and has to rely pretty heavily on the personality Alexandra injects liberally into proceedings. Christ knows what dreary results we’d get if Leona Lewis had to tackle the same problem.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Single Reviews 20/05/12

Oh, it’s you. Sorry, didn’t see you there – we were busy toasting marshmallows on the Olympic Flame. Well, what else is it good for? On the Single Reviews this week, a good band, a crap band, a rather annoying pop diva doing something quite good, and a former Ash member doing something a bit rubbish. It’s all very unsettling...

The amazing Charlotte Hatherley unveils her peculiar electro sort-of-alter-ego Sylver Tongue, although anyone hoping for another Bastardo will be truly gutted. The busy, fieldmousey keyboard squeaks of Creatures carries precisely no melody – or perhaps it’s about 54 different melodies, we’re not sure yet – and overall makes for a seriously difficult listen. We want to love it, really. But we’ll have to concede this one’s passed us by.

Single of the Week is brought to us by London five-piece Spector, with the dynamic stadium indie of Celestine. It boasts immediate wallop, but from there, goes via bouncing guitars and dirty breakdowns to a soaring climax. Sounding rather like Editors after a few too many Red Bulls, and yet still boasting a vibe all their own, there’s a good chance their upcoming debut album could well be a 2012 highlight.

Jennifer Lopez, of all people, pulls the proverbial rabbit out of the proverbial hat with the surprisingly impressive Dance Again. Alas, it gives yet a further platform to serial collaborator and all-round rap-bore Pitbull, and the whole thing is Red One by numbers, but its tune is strangely spellbinding, and makes for a high point in a career of wishy-washy, overtwiddled R&B. Reluctant kudos awarded.

And finally, The Wanted kindly provide yet another example of how not to do pop, with Chasing the Sun every bit as predictable and forgettable as everything they’ve done post-All Time Low, all off-the-shelf house beats and a chorus of ohs and whoas. And let’s also address the video, in which they play vampires. Wow! That’s such a bold move! As daring and as original as the song itself. Now do fuck off, please.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Single Reviews 13/05/12

Welcome to the Single Reviews, on a week Great Britain learns it has a Prime Minister who doesn’t even know what ‘LOL’ means. Hell, that’s even worse than the fact he was schmoozing Rebekah Brooks in the first place. As a nation, we are truly doomed. Still, if you’re looking for recommendations for your apocalypse playlist, then read on, as we can offer a fine selection...

Nigerian rapper D’Banj is up first, with the hypnotic thump of Oliver Twist. Nonsense lyrics about arse-shaking and listing celebrity ladies he’d like to bone may not be the most appealing aspect of a song, but it’s hard to resist the mesmerising tribal beats and brilliantly daft rapalong chorus. Mix that with the lucrative Kanye West stamp of approval, and it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing Oliver Twist for some time to come.

Blood Red Shoes score a Single of the Week with the robust rhythms and brooding licks of Lost Kids. For the most part, it’s a solid, if fairly standard, indie-rock effort, but the intense, growing chorus brings Lost Kids into its own: a sharp-edged, attitude-laden anthem from one of Brighton’s brightest. If rock has any fighting chance of returning to the charts, it bodes well that it’s got Blood Red Shoes in its corner.

Neon Hitch drops a good few storeys in our estimations with the grotesque F U Betta, a messy, runny McHouse number with precisely zero relevance. She’s clearly going for some sort of legs-akimbo Rihanna skankfest, and she does achieve it on the most base of levels, but any vague credibility she may have once carried is lost amongst the overprogrammed beats, AutoTune hell and presumably whiffy quarter-leotards.

And finally, The Saturdays miraculously turn out a good song in what’s become one of the most dull, personality-free girlband catalogues in music history. It’s not quite on a par with Up, but 30 Days is playful, danceable, entertaining and a step away from the faceless, forgettable squelch that’s made up most of their recent output. (We’ll overlook the atrocious video shot in a motorway diner on a budget of £150.)

Friday, May 04, 2012

Single Reviews 06/05/12

Some things you can always rely on, can’t you? Some shitty song by something called Carly Rae Jepsen top of the Singles Chart again; Louis Walsh returning to The X Factor again; the London Mayoral frontrunners a two-man shitshower again. But hey, just as well you have those things to rely on, cos the Single Reviews have been rather intermittent of late. At least we managed it this week...

Opening the reviews this week are Kasabian, with the shadowy, menacing beats of Man of Simple Pleasures, yet another impressive cut from Velociraptor! (curse that naff exclamation mark). Tom Meighan’s vocals really come into their own on comparably mellower numbers such as this, and while it may not be obvious single material, it’s an intriguing new window into a band most people probably thought they knew pretty well.

While the omnipresent dubstep trend has grown beyond tiresome, it’s been given a novel boost in the form of Rita Ora featuring Tinie Tempah, with the ballsy gusto of R.I.P. It doesn’t boast the same frenetic brilliance of Hot Right Now, and it’s hard to even pick out a chorus amongst all the industrial squelch, but the crystalline vocals and brawny attitude are testament to Rita Ora as an artist worth keeping a close eye on.

Carrie Underwood might finally get round to making her mark on this side of the pond with the charismatic, resilient Good Girl. The country twang is hard to conceal, but the overtones of oestrogen rawk and mighty vocals make it a much more appealing prospect – at least to British ears – than previous material. Prepare to see a whole lot of new album Blown Away gracing many a supermarket shelf. Whether it shifts or not is another matter.

Finally, The Subways reinvigorate interest in the now-eight-month-old album Money and Celebrity with the first-single-worthy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. You’re ensnared within a couple of bars, the mix of Billy Lunn and Charlotte Cooper’s vocals giving proceedings some extra clout. But it’s the chorus that truly sells Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a forceful and compelling refrain that grants it Single of the Week status.

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