New Releases 18th February 2008

by MV

I’m playing catch-up…

Single of the Week: Lykke Li – Little Bit
TOUGH CALL this week. A very strong list of releases here, but ultimately, it’s two weeks in a row for Swedish pop. On first listen, while evidently striking, there seems to be a flimsiness to this, and perhaps an excess of affected cuteness in the vocals. But then it grows. And grows and grows and grows. And then you notice the cleverness – the ‘little bit in love with you’ of the cutesy chorus is revealed as a brilliant touch of ironic understatement when placed next to calmly disturbing submissive lyrics like ‘for you I keep my legs apart’ and ‘I would give anything to have you as my man.’ It’s not all clever-clever though, it’s an understated work of pop genius, a song that’ll take residence in your head and refuse to budge for a good few months. Top quality stuff.

Many more goodies if you clicky below…

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Dig Lazarus Dig!!!
Ah, isn’t it great to have Cave back, on form and clearly having SO MUCH FUN?! After the mammoth stress-release project that was Grinderman, here we find him drawing on that bands obsession with perversion, sense of joy in music, and rampant energy, and marrying it to the sheer musical genius of the Bad Seeds. The video’s a triumph too, with our man grooving along like a man possessed. 100% fun.

Kylie Minogue – Wow
The trouble with this is that it emphatically doesn’t make me want to say Wow. Expectations too high, and all that. On the other hand, it’s a serviceable slice of 2000s Kylie. And what could possibly be bad about that? Less of a departure than ‘Two Hearts’ but none the worse for it. A satisfied Mmm, then, rather than a big Wow.

Los Campesinos! – Death To Los Campesinos!
A shoe-in for Single of the Week in any week other than this one. It’s hard to pin down exactly how Los Campesinos have managed to distill the essence of all of the best indie-pop of the last twenty years, remove any off-putting elements of excessive twee, marry it to only-just-restrained-enough Riot Grrl-esque shouting, and come out with an end result that seems to appeal to twee kids, your average indie-rock fan, and pop-lovers equally. In any case, it’s a very special achievement, and one which this third explosive sugar rush of a single exemplifies. Brilliant.

Cut Off Your Hands – Oh Girl (7′)
Had to put this one after Los Campesinos, just by way of comparison. This is one of the extremes of indie-pop that LC have managed to perfect, and an otherwise enjoyable romp like this looks a little limp and lifeless in comparison. That’s not to say it’s bad at all, just suffers by comparison with its more exuberant neighbour.

Joe Lean & The Jing Jang Jong – Lonely Buoy
This, on the other hand, is just rubbish. On a sliding scale with Los Campesinos at 11, and Cut Off Your Hands bumbling on along on an entirely pleasant six or seven, this uninspiring dirge in search of a tune would struggle to even register. It’s saying something when a career move is so bad, it makes (Joe’s previous job, aside from appearing as a hyperactive wannabe trendy teen in Peep Show – must’ve been a toughie) drumming for the Pipettes seem like a crowning achievement.

Nightwish – Bye Bye Beautiful
There’s a Lukas Moodysson film which makes brilliant use of German metallers Rammstein and Russian popsters t.a.T.u on its soundtrack. Norwegian ‘symphonic metal’ outfit Nightwish have clearly been taking notes. This is great stuff, which proves that rock+melody doesn’t have to equal Evanescence, and that there are still people out there making ludicrous but enjoyable pomp rock. Brilliant.

Alan Connor – Dance Away
I believe this is what’s known as a guilty pleasure. A fairly straight cover of the Roxy classic, with a bit of a flimsy beat tacked on. But I’m still enjoying it. What can you do?

Miss Kittin – Kittin Is High (12′)
Caroline Hervé, aka Miss Kittin, produced some of the most interesting music of the early 2000s, including an album that defined electroclash before the term even really existed (with The Hacker) and a single, ‘Rippin Kittin’ (with Golden Boy) that’s easily up there with the best of the decade so far. She’s still kicking around, unlike some of her electroclash contemporaries. She’s gone a bit goth, which is not necessarily a bad thing. This is still enjoyable stuff, but the intoned bored vocals sound a bit done-to-death in 2008. The music ticks along nicely, superb production as ever, but it’s not bowling me over.

H20 ft. Platnum – What’s It Gonna Be?
So this is bassline, then? Here sounding suspiciously like UK Garage circa 2000, then. Requisite dodgy soft porn-lite video, almost-too-lightweight backing track, but all made up for by a fantastically catchy vocal line. Good pop.

The Orb – Vuja De
Early 90s ambient house stalwarts the Orb are still kicking around, knocking out tracks like this jolly little ditty. Playing to their strengths, both the video and the track, particularly the vocals, scream early 90s. No bad thing, but aside from a smattering of Avalanches-style samples, it’s pretty repetitive and sounds more than a little like a TV theme tune. Possibly to some programme about buying houses in Spain.

Basia Bulat – In The Night
Canadian – check. Indie-ish songstress with pop leanings – check. Quirky video – check. All we need is an iPod advert and here we have the next Feist. Except not quite as good. Still a very enjoyable, breezy and cheerful song though from the recent Rough Trade signing.

New Sins – It Doesn’t Work Like That (7′)
This is a spin-off from New Young Pony Club, with keyboardist Lou Hayter fronting an altogether more stylish and subdued affair. It’s glossy 80s-influenced synth-pop, and while it occasionally brings to mind the boring efforts of Client et al to revive the genre, there’s a spark in there that hints at better things to come.

Operator Please – Get What You Want (7′)
Shouty Australian female-fronted band who produced one of 2007’s most irritating songs (‘Just a Song About Ping Pong’) but thankfully seem to have reined in some of their more grating tendencies and produced a fairly enjoyable single which sounds great on the radio.

The Rascals – Suspicious Wit
Formerly the Little Flames, the Rascals are still produced decent-but-not-great indie-rock. Getting more attention at the moment as one of them’s collaborating with an Arctic Monkey. As this is better than most of the Sheffield band’s overrated second album, that’s probably something to look forward to. Solid.

Benjamin Wetherill – The Derby Ram (7′)
Rather gloriously out-of-time strange folk-pop from this Leeds songwriter. He’s taking his unique sound out on tour with similarly modernity-mismatched troubadours A Hawk and a Hacksaw. Worth catching.

Fredo Viola – The Sad Song (10′ + 12′)
Can be twinned with the Wetherill single as yet another single out this week that sounds like it could have been released at some point in the middle ages, rather than 2008. It’s a slightly bizarre chant, that while hypnotic and attention-grabbing, isn’t entirely enjoyable.

Grace Emilys – On Jamaica Street
New Scots indie-rockers who should appeal to fans of early Futureheads, the Maccabees, and anything along similar lines: bouncy, upbeat, enjoyable enough stuff.

Yila feat Scroobius Pip – Astronaut (7′)
Scroobius Pip of ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ fame talking over another record. This one’s got a more interesting backing track, but less attention-grabbing lyrics. Ho hum. Nice beard, though.

Out Of Office – Break of Dawn 2008
Another early-90s house anthem that some producer or other probably heard on a night on the piss and decided it would be a good idea if more people heard it. Fair enough. It’s a good track, but it’s also another unnecessary half-arsedly remixed rerelease.

Craig David – 6 Of 1 Thing
Craaaaaig David is sounding a bit American these days. To the detriment of whatever appeal he used to have. Not at all distinctive or interesting.

Mark Ronson – Just
Pointless, pointless cover of the already overplayed Radiohead ‘classic.’ And it’s a reissue, so double-pointless (or is that triple?) Ronson works when he’s finding genius in unlikely places (like the Zutons’ back-catalogue) and sticking an inspired vocalist on top (rather than the bloke from Phantom Planet.) Oh well, the video this time around is a brilliant spoof of the original though, so worth a click on the youtube link above.