New Releases 4th February 2008

by MV

Single of the Week: Rubies – I Feel Electric (12”)
This has been one of those weeks where getting through much of this list of releases has been a real effort. One of those weeks when seeing a name you don’t recognise on the release list can bring a dodgy feeling in one’s gut. Rubies? Please don’t be another new lad-rock band influenced by the Kaiser Chiefs. Please don’t be a ludicrous attempt at a modern day glam act with a line in outdated ‘electroclash.’ Please don’t be shit.

Please do be a sublime piece of bubbling electronica with lush, alluring vocals. Please do be another addition to the Feist/Tegan & Sara school of distinctive modern folk/pop crossover. Please be all of this, and then some. Rubies make ‘Danceable folk, bedroom disco, and lost love laments.’ ‘I Feel Electric’ is what would happen if Roisin Murphy and Feist met and decided to try and make the perfect pop record, drawing on everything from the Bee Gees to Fleetwood Mac. If there’s any justice, you’ll be hearing a lot more of them in 2008.

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

Rihanna – Don’t Stop The Music
How do you top the single that defined 2007 for many? Inevitably, you don’t. You just fire out a couple of solid, high quality pop singles that most others would kill for. This isn’t unique, defining stuff like ‘Umbrella’ but it’s still close to the best of what pop music has to offer. The verse lacks punch, but the chorus takes off in a heady rush of carefree 90s-pop abandon. Whether Rihanna will ever release anything as stratospherically great and enduring as last year’s uberhit is up for debate, but as long as she keeps churning out great-for-the-moment tracks like this, there won’t be many complaints.

Mark Brown feat Sarah Cracknell – The Journey Continues
I can’t help feeling that if this didn’t feature the heavenly everything turns to gold vocals of Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell, I’d be writing this off as either dull, irritating or both. There’s no doubt that that opera-light lift from a bank advert (of all things) is an annoyance, but if anything can alert more people to the neglected genius of Saint Etienne (still making criminally ignored great pop records) then it’s all good by me. Now, where’s the remix which wipes out that bloody sample…

Blood Red Shoes – You Bring Me Down
Reissue of 2006 single from Brighton band tipped for greater things in 2008. While they make an admirable racket for a 2-piece, ‘You Bring Me Down’ is dominated by some pretty generic wiry riffing, and Laura-Mary Carter’s vocals are thin and indistinct. They have better things up their sleeve, and, to be fair, the hyperactive chorus redeems this single and makes it worth a listen.

Iwasacubscout – Pink Squares / Echoes (3×7”)
Another kind-of-unnecessary indie reissue from the young Notts duo with the slightly over-quirky moniker. To be fair to IWACS, there’s something quite unique about their sound. What immediately comes to mind is the old-school emo/geek-rock sounds of groups like Saves The Day. But IWACS add to this template by drawing from the healthy electro scene that dominates Nottingham in 2008 and adding some nice bubbly keyboard noises. It’s still basically a bit of lovable/punchable (delete as appropriate) whining set to a catchy tune, but at least it’s venturing in the direction of something new.

Morrissey – That’s How People Grow Up
Why does pointlessness seem to be the theme of this week’s single releases? This is a bonus track on Mozza’s latest inexplicable ‘Greatest Hits (That I Released Off My Last Two Albums.)’ It’s lazy stuff, really. Could easily be a cast-off from ‘Ringleader of the Tormentors’, sounding as it does like a vastly inferior version of ‘You Have Killed Me’ (which itself wasn’t exactly highly regarded by most.) Early signs are that the real new material, due later in the year, should be more interesting.

Biffy Clyro – Who’s Got A Match
Hard to really take the Biff seriously as contenders these days. Years of workmanlike old-school emo-rock, beloved of their cult following, have largely failed to result in any impact on the mainstream despite plenty of high-profile support slots over the years. Last year’s novelty reading of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ was probably their high point in terms of notoriety. There’s nothing especially wrong with this latest effort, it fizzes along happily enough, eschewing their usual anthemic sound for something a little more urgent-sounding, but it’s hard to see where they go from here. One for the fans, as ever.

David Jordan – Sun Goes Down
Trevor Horn-produced young Londoner who’s been creeping up the charts for weeks prior to this physical release. There’s a definite Prince influence in his style and sound, but it’s sorely lacking in subtlety. There seems to be an occasional tendency these days for record companies to suddenly decide they’ve got too many bland Adeles on their books, and desperately reach for the other extreme. As such, this song has the proverbial kitchen sink thrown at it in an elusive search for ‘star quality.’ It ends up sounding like a bizarre hybrid of slick US-style production, and an old-school jolly Lahn-don knees-up. With added unnecessary vocal ‘flourishes.’ For me, it’s about as irritating as modern pop can get. Going to be massive though, so I guess I better get used to it.

Attic Lights – Never Get Sick Of The Sea
Pleasantly cheerful Britpop-esque bounce-along from new Glaswegian band. While being reminded of bands like Cast and the Supernaturals probably isn’t top of my list for a great 2008 single, it does have a pretty catchy outro. Shame the previous three minutes of the song aren’t up to much.

Michael Jackson feat Will.I.Am – The Girl Is Mine 2008
Do you even need to listen to this? You know the song, you know what the modern day Wyclef Jean is going to add to it. You know it’s being released because Wacko needs a bit of cash. You know… I can’t be bothered to review this properly.

Ruarri Joseph – Won’t Work
Breezy acoustica. Cute, and moderately enjoyable. But I’m tired now, and this isn’t exciting me.

Man From Michael – Heart Of Glue (7”)
Solid scouse-pop, everything you’d expect from a Merseyside guitar band. Hard to find much to say about it – it does its stuff and strums along for a while before gaining a bit of Doves-style momentum through a decent driving beat. Not unpleasant, not especially interesting either.

White Light Parade – Wait For The Weekend
Their blurb talks about supports for Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabian and The View. It’s all you need to know, really. Can we just lose this entire thread of mundane, chugging lad-rock, please?

Wet Wet Wet – Weightless
Oh dear, to what do we owe this dubious ‘pleasure’? Who’s been out there campaigning for the return of creepy bore-meister Marti Pellow, then? Unsurprisingly, this single ambles along in an almost ambient fashion, and it’s over before you’ve really registered its presence. Your reviewer is rapidly losing the will to live.

 Postscript to this week’s reviews – I’ve removed one single review, and comments relating to it, as it was more trouble than is really necessary – also disabled open commenting on articles for now.