New Releases 31st March 2008

by MV

Single of the Week: Roisin Murphy – You Know Me Better
I knew it would happen eventually! This is a by default Single of the Week, as we’ve had yet another slow week for amazing singles. This is really, really good fresh-sounding modern pop from the ex-Moloko lady. Not much else to say about it, but no other tracks this week meet my criteria, and it couldn’t have gone to a nicer person. Well done Roisin!

The Count & Sinden – Beeper
I’ve singularly failed to identify the very very familiar sample in this track, though this seems like a possible source. Anyway, quality track from remix-merchants Sinden and Herve, who’ve recruited ace new Chicago rapper Kid Sister (who sounds a bit like a better version of Princess Superstar, and has recently worked on an excellent track – Pro Nails – with Kanye West) for a single which is allegedly a ‘tribute to UK Garage’ but is a lot more bouncy and fun than that suggests.

Mariah Carey – Touch My Body
Mariah’s long since dragged herself out of her early-century (Glitter-era doldrums). She no longer relies solely on her vocal talents, and is even happy to mock her vocal-gymnast reputation in this latest video. This is modern-sounding, subtle but sexy pop music, something that I’d have fail to envisage her being capable of a few years ago. The witty video displays a newfound comfort with her status, and, it seems, her body, which is displayed at every opportunity. The song is pleasant and summery, if lacking that killer punch that would lift it a little.

Sharon Jones & Dap Kings – 100 Days 100 Nights
A welcome antidote to this year’s white “soul” explosion, here we have a bit of classic funk from someone who knows how to do it properly. Great fun, albeit far too self-consciously retro to have any relevance as a single in 2008.

Bullet For My Valentine – Hearts Burst Into Fire
I freely admit that this particular genre of music (being, as far as I can tell, a pacy melodic take on classic metal) isn’t really my cup of tea, as similar bands in the field seem to be overly whiny and generally teenage. Based on this, and their previous single, though, Bullet For My Valentine seem to be quite a decent exception to the rule. I’m not going to be listening to it again, but I don’t regreat the few minutes I spent listening to and reviewing it, and can totally understand their appeal. Big tunes, big riffs, not especially whiny. Good stuff.

Serj Tankian – Sky Is Over
When metal (and, ack, “nu-metal”) had its brief moment in the sunny realms of the top 40 about five or six years ago, Serj’s band System of a Down were a shining beacon of wit, invention and melody among the sludge and drivel of bands like Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach. The pomp was ramped up a bit too much for my liking on Toxicity, and this seems to have carried through to Serj’s solo career. He’s still a commanding vocal presence, and there’s certainly a tune in there, but it’s just a bit too sane for anyone that enjoyed System of a Down’s early days.

Elle Milano – Meanwhile In Hollywood…
In some ways pretty generic 2008 indie rock from this Brighton band. But there’s a little something in there that makes it more likeable than most. The vocals are a bit whiny, but there’s a pleasing sense of drama about the whole thing, and it’s nicely produced.

Felix Da Housecat – Radio
I’m not sure where Chicago DJ extraordinaire Felix lost his way as a solo artist. He followed up his electroclash scene-defining Kittenz and Thee Glitz with the hugely underrated and ahead of its (80s-reviving) time Devin Dazzle and the Neon Fever in 2004. The latter album was full of potential singles, great collaborations and a brilliant conceptual electro girl band – the Neon Fever of the title. Yet his recent releases have been underwhelming, lacking the vibrancy and spark of their predecessors. This is more of the same, with muted production and a lazy repeated refrain. Disappointing by his high standards.

Locarnos – Give It To Me Straight
Another competent enough indie track from this band of Somerset youngsters. As with much of the current indie scene, tends to draw a little too heavily on contemporary influences, without looking for originality, or even to the past. Comes out of the blender somewhere between Editors and the Cribs, but somewhat cheerier than both. Inoffensive.

Radiohead – Nude
As I’ve said before in this blog, I used to enjoy Radiohead, but lost interest a while back – not immediately at Kid A, which I still rate as a pretty great album (even if they didn’t release any official singles off it – Instant Hits crime alert!), but over the course of the last few years they’ve just failed to grab me in any way. This is entirely pleasant, almost ambient, background music, but like previous release ‘Jigsaw Falling into Place’, it’s too subtle to work as a standalone single.

Sonic Hearts – To Be Someone
Pretty guitar intro let down by slightly generic rest of song. Potential though, and a little more loveable than most of the current crop of guitar bands.

Storys – Long Hard Road
Fact: singer Steve Balsamo once played the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar. Fact #2: this song is pretty damn boring.
(live video)

Kooks – Always Where I Need To Be
It’s far too easy to pull up the Kooks for their drama school background, so instead, let’s focus on the music. That a guitar band can be manifestly ‘inauthetic’ and succeed is now a given – Busted and McFly (who the Kooks regularly seem to imitate) laid the cartoon-crazy-paved foundations, and now we have the more pseudo-‘credible’ groups like the Hoosiers scoring big hits. It’s all OK. McFly made some great pop records. Indeed, the Kooks’ first album had a couple of hummable tunes on it. This, on the other hand, is just lazy. Instantly forgettable and trying too hard to be redeemed by its ‘doo doo doo’ chorus, it fades from the memory almost before it’s ended.