New Releases 11th February 2008

by MV

Single of the Week: Those Dancing Days – Hitten
OK, OK, it had to come out eventually. My love for perfect Swedish indie-pop, that is. As difficult as it is to relegate the surefire pop class of Goldfrapp to the week’s number two spot, I simply can’t fault this song in any way. It’s my favourite song in this genre since Camera Obscura’s ‘Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken,’ which I’ll gladly admit was my Single of the Year in 2006. This runs it pretty close. And when you realize that (a) they have a bagful of singles in waiting which are all as good and (b) they’re all under 19, you know you’ve got something special on your hands. The latter point leads to a further thought – it’s almost inconceivable that anyone over 19 could have written a song so drenched in innocent joyful melody. It’s breezy, assured, adorable, classic pop of the kind that could only possibly have come from Sweden. It’s pretty near perfect, if you ask me.

Goldfrapp – A & E
A tough decision to relegate this single to runner-up status. It’s absolutely beautiful, and demonstrates that while everyone else is still tooling around trying to rip off ‘Train’ and ‘Strict Machine’ (which came out roughly four years ago), Goldfrapp have nailed the Great Pop Skill that is the ability to move on and constantly reinvent oneself. This is everything Adele and her bland contemporaries should be aiming for – contemplative and thought-provoking, yet with a delicate pop shimmer to it, rather than strained bombast. It recalls a variety of classic female vocalists, while remaining utterly unique and modern-sounding. A bit of a triumph, all told.

The rest are behind the ‘Read more’ link below. A good week all round…

Envelopes – Party (7”)
Envelopes are a band that excite me more with every release. Early singles like the manic ‘Sister in Love’ set the tone, and they’ve since dotted around just about every genre with alternately incredible and infuriating results, but always interesting ones. ‘Party’ is perhaps the highlight of their short career so far. Starting off with a fairly innocuous indie-rock strum, it takes off with some quirky Knife-like girl vocals and a bit of Bonnie Tyler lyric referencing. Very much worth checking out.

Figurines – Hey Girl (12”)
A bloody strong week for the Scandinavians. This lot describe themselves as ‘21st century cutting edge Danish melody core.’ Which sounds cool. It’s charming, and lacking the quirks that usually hold this sort of thing back from being genuinely pop. It doesn’t quite have the sheer joy of Those Dancing Days or the weirdness of Envelopes, but definitely ones to watch with a possibility of knocking out a couple of big hits over here.

Pete & The Pirates – Mr Understanding
It seems that mid-February must be the time of year when the singles market wakes up a bit, because here we have yet another pretty decent indie release. It’s hard to say what sets this Reading bunch apart from your average generic indie chancers. A sense of humour, an ear for a catchy hook, and not being in thrall to a bunch of sub-standard recent lad-rock acts, though… these all probably help. Winner.

Correcto – Do It Better (7”)
Side project alert! Here we find Paul Thomson from Franz Ferdinand keeping busy while Alex Kapranos writes about food. Surprisingly, it’s actually pretty good. Less surprisingly, it sounds a bit like Wire, and a bit like a lot of bands influenced by Wire. But it’s not a bad way of spending a few minutes waiting for the next Franz LP.

Georgie Carter – A Little Bit Lost
This is really quite lovely, in a 90s summery pop style. Also a member of Oxfordshire funk collective Tempa Tempa. And her dad was in Mr Big! It’s a little bit bland and slightly dated, but lovably so. Probably one to watch.

Jody Watley – I Want Your Love
More 90s retro, in a classic big soulful house stylee. Quite enjoyable, and feasibly going to be pretty popular. Not hugely distinctive, but it passes the time pleasantly enough.

The Feeling – I Thought It Was Over
Blokey from the Feeling seems to have gone for an interesting Matt Bellamy impersonating Midge Ure look in this new video. In celebration, their sound also seems to have moved on a little. Less of the quirky bouncy ‘mumpop’ that defined their debut, and a bit more 80s influence. Still doesn’t quite hit all the right buttons for me, but is making me reassess their potential as a pop band – a bit less weedy, and this could almost be a weak Duran Duran single. That may sound like a backhanded compliment, but hey, at least they’re getting there.

Glasvegas – Its My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry (7”) [Thur 14th]
Very hyped Glaswegian band. This one’s out on Valentine’s Day. It has an old romantic Spector-esque grandeur about it, too. And wins lots of bonus points for singing in accent – always a Great Thing. There’s something indefinable missing from this, but it’s a decent effort and a good sign of things to come.

Dropkick Murphys – The State Of Massachusetts (EP)
One of those bands where you know what you’re gonna get, being an angry punk take on a classic Irish band setup. You can say one thing for them, they’re pretty distinctive. It’s also quite a musically enjoyable way of getting across some seriously right-on messages and letting off some anger. If we gave every angry/whiny band a banjo and a fiddle we might get something a bit more listenable. Like this. Good work.

Anomalies – The Hand That Lights My Cigarette
Indie/hip-hop crossover from Hereford. Recently supported Dan Le Sac etc. Enjoyable upbeat bouncy stuff, far more promising than descriptions suggested. Should go down well at festivals.

The Coral – Put The Sun Back
There’s an awful moment at the start of this track when it sounds like they’re going to go a bit Chili Peppers on us. Luckily, it passes, and it’s soon back to business as usual. ‘Put the Sun Back’ finds the scousers in wistful sentimental strum mode, which while endearing and inoffensive, does make you wish they’d occasionally weird out a bit more and remember that they once made singles like ‘Skeleton Key.’ Hey, we’re not expecting another ‘Dreaming of You,’ but a bit of variety might be nice.

Paramore – Misery Business
It’s pretty clear that stuff like this falls some way outside my real sphere of interest, so don’t shoot me down for my lack of knowledge. I can just remember hearing a tonne of music in the late nineties/ early noughties that did the whole female-fronted pop-punk/rock thing a whole lot better. This is decent enough, but it’s just a bit post-Avril for my tastes.

Patchwork Grace – The Lovecats
From all available evidence, this Nottingham band seem to be in a fairly promising Distillers-style niche of interesting female-fronted rock. Certainly far more interesting than Paramore, anyway. The trouble is, this single offers very little in the way of actual evidence, being as it is a fairly straight cover of the Cure classic. You sometimes have to wonder what the point of such a strategy is so early in a band’s career.

Simple Plan – When I’m Gone
Not going to spend much time on this – US college pop-punk, of the type that was pretty huge a couple of years back. Big budget production, with some more interesting noises than you’d usually get in this genre, and glossy video to go with it. Not really my ballpark, but good in its field and will do the trick for those that like this sort of thing.

Armand Van Helden – Je T’Aime
Not a Serge Gainsbourg cover, but more of the same slightly-dated mainstream bosh from old-school Superstar DJ Armand. Lots of fun but lacks class. Perfect for a night out on the Breezers though…

Carbon/Silicon – Why Do Men Fight?
Mick Jones off of the Clash with a further step in his mission to grow old disgracefully. I suppose in some ways we should be glad that there’s at least one Clash legend still making music, but it doesn’t half make you yearn for Joe, even in his Mescaleros days. Mick should probably stick to producing.

Natasha England – Iko Iko
I’m not sure what the point of this reissue is? Great song, but check out the definitive version, by the Belle Stars, instead.

Andy Scott-Lee – Unforgettable
Alert! Scott-Lee clan revival! Nothing much here for those who aren’t desperately missing Westlife/ general 90s boy-band sounds. Which I have to say I’m not. Apparently the video was filmed in Bognor. Which makes me smile. No offence Bognor!

Tori White – Who If Its Not You
Diva-esque vocal-gymnastic pop, with more than a hint of country influence. Sounds, and looks, very American. In truth, sounds a bit like an above-average X-Factor performance. Clearly vocally talented, but the song’s not really there.

Van Tramp – Help Me Make It
London band with a terrible name, producing what sounds kind of like generic US Classic Rock meets Stereophonics. Well, makes a change from Libertines rip-offs at least. Nothing much to go on from this track though…