New Releases 21st January 2008

by MV

Single of the Week: Kings Have Long Arms feat. Candie Payne – Big Umbrella


This is Single of the Week because in an alternative, better universe, this would be outselling Adele by twenty to one. It’s not in the same league, but it reminds me of great lost pop single ‘Don’t Falter’ by Mint Royale/Lauren Laverne, in that it’s being released at totally the wrong time of year and will not get the respect it deserves.

Previously obscure electro-merchants KHLA, previously best known for hanging around with Phil Oakey in dingy Sheffield clubs (probably), have pulled something out of the bag with this early slice of summery, glittery pop music. Candie Payne is a fantastic singer-songwriter who surfaced last year to great critical acclaim but somehow is still left on the sidelines while certain other ladies are given a free ride to success. It’s a slow week for singles, and this one pisses on all the others from a great height.

For the rest of this week’s releases, click ‘more’ below…

Adele – Chasing Pavements
Every now and again you get a singer-songwriter that the record industry decides is going to be huge, and there’s very little anyone is likely to be able to do about it. Plugged to death, playlisted everywhere that matters since early autumn, and, of course, on every critic’s ‘ones to watch’ list for 2008. It’s tiring stuff, and a reminder that Reality TV is merely the latest manifestation of acts being ‘fast-tracked’ to success. This is an old-school example of the same.

It’s a pity, really, because taken in isolation, this is kind of stirring stuff. It’s definitely in the same school as Corinne Bailey Rae (Next Big Thing 2006, of course,) but with the ‘epic’ and ‘emotional’ knobs turned up to 11. How you go about chasing a pavement, I’ll never know, but shut out the hype and this is a pleasant three minutes of twenty-first century power-balladry with a cracking chorus.

Jennifer Lopez – Hold It Don’t Drop It
Ah, Ms. Lo, we’ve missed you. Thankfully, you’ve come back with a single that sounds like it could have been released any time in the last decade. It’s not one of your classics, by any stretch, but it’s likeably old-school pop-RnB which we don’t hear enough of these days. Xtina pulls off this schtick a whole lot better, but who are we to complain. Good pop single.
Post-script: Apparently now not getting a physical release, but it’s still lurking around the charts so leaving it in.

Bullet For My Valentine – Scream Aim Fire
The chorus of this song is a barked refrain of ‘OVER THE TOP! OVER THE TOP!’ Couldn’t have put it better myself. Does a much better job than Alter Bridge (see below) of being a modern-day Metallica. It’s big and dumb and features vocals which switch between glossy emo and slightly unnerving growling. If you’re going to be a metal band, at least have the decency to do it properly. There’s no half-measures here, and therefore it’s an enjoyable racket.

Louie Austen feat Senor Coconut Orchestra – Dreams Are My Reality
Louie Austen is a sixty-something Ratpack-style crooner who was for some reason picked up by trendy electro label Kitty-Yo, and soon found himself rubbing shoulders with Chilly Gonzales and telling Peaches to Grab His Shaft. I first encountered him on stage at 3am at a Spanish festival in 2003, resplendent in white suit, mixing in Gonzales-produced tracks with tape-backed karaoke runs through ‘My Way’ and suchlike. Actually something of a guilty pleasure. Can’t really fathom why he’s reappeared, this time in more laidback fashion, but this is definitely enjoyable in a ‘huh?’ sort of way. Perhaps due a summer reissue if it’s actually going to get anywhere, but fair play to the dude.

Noah & The Whale – 2 Bodies 1 Heart (7”)
Ah, a little bit of twee fun to break up the monotony. This is really nice, cute stuff. Although it’s relatively leftfieldwith a very distinctive (and thus potentially off-putting) vocals, there’s a solid tunefulness in this that could result in some crossover success. It’s a little too earnest to be something I could ever love, but it’s also a sunny little pop song that proves that production values aren’t everything when it comes to writing classic tunes.

These New Puritans – Elvis
Fall-approaching intensity from hotly-tipped trendy indie band. It takes a lot of listens to really settle in the brain, but once it’s there it stays. Solid enough, then, but the chorus is too stylized to stay true to its manic roots and too inconsequential to lift the song above the mundane. You get the feeling there’s better to come, here, though.

Cass McCombs – That’s That (7”)
Obviously not every song released as a single is designed to blast its way into the charts and make an impact as a single. More often, they can just lead you to a more album-centric artist worth uncovering. This is far too subtle to be a great single, but it definitely makes me want to hear more from Cass. A lilting, wistful shuffle of a song, with offbeat lyrics and a cute little spot of doo-wopping. Charming.

Das Pop – Fool For Love (7” + 12”)
Belgians with a hometown connection with Soulwax. And boy, does it show. Fool For Love could have come straight off the Dewaele brothers’ debut Much Against Everyone’s Advice. The source material is exemplary, and it’s really not a bad tune. But you can’t help feeling that, with Soulwax having moved on to far more interesting territories, this sounds a little out of time in 2008.

Jubilee – Rebel Hiss
LA rockers who apparently have some famous friends. The song is indistinct sludge-rock with big crunchy power chords, and probably sounds better driving around in the California sun than it does in grey Britain in mid-winter. Still, their blurb tells me they have been recording with ‘a dozen different drummers’ including Joshes Freese and Homme. A pointless indulgence, if ever there was one, but at least it gives me something to write about.

Jay Sean – Ride It
Slightly sleazy, but fundamentally whiny, slick & slow R’n’B that will no doubt be popular among the mobile phones on buses brigade. Lacks the class of better examples of the genre, from Usher and the like. Nothing we haven’t heard a hundred million times before.

The Little Ones – Ordinary Song
A band that appear to have written the soundtrack to this week’s mediocre crop of releases. Far too tempting to have some fun with their boring song-titling and apply it to their similarly boring song-writing. This is uninspiring at best. Bed-wetting emo of the old-school variety before it got taken over by big choruses and eyeliner.

Alter Bridge – Ties That Bind
Hairy men who used to be in Creed. Enough, already? No? The song, then: over-produced, limp, soft-metal that aims to sound like 80s Metallica. Not really good enough.