New Releases 28th April 2008
Single of the Week: Kid Sister ft. Kanye West – Pro Nails
Ah, finally this gets a proper release! About time, too. This excellent electro/hip-hop crossover track has been flloating around since the back end of 2007. It’s spent so long waiting to be released that ace Chicago MC Kid Sister actually ended up making her UK debut on the Count & Sinden’s Beeper. This is in a different league though, and for once it’s not Kanye that steals the show. As I’ve mentioned before, Kid Sister is kind of like an updated version of Princess Superstar, only with better delivery, and on this evidence, much better singles. Of course the lyrical content’s total nonsense, but who honestly cares? This is great, fresh-sounding stuff, perfect for summer, full of life, bounce and energy. Comfortably one of the best pop singles of the year so far.
Shout Out Louds – Tonight I Have To Leave It (7”)
Brilliantly exuberant guitar pop from this Swedish bunch. File next to the Mystery Jets in 2008’s re-emergence of guitar bands doing perfect pop. Yes, of course, it sounds far too much like the Cure for comfort, and that intro seems to remind me, of all things, of the main theme to the original UK Queer as Folk. None of this stops it being an excellent, if not exactly groundbreaking, guitar pop single.
Crisis – Consequences
Absolutely worthwhile effort in support of Crisis from a bunch of indie scenesters, young and old. Despite the nasty Band Aid-style video and alleged cut-and-paste production, what it really sounds like is less a classic group effort than Supergrass featuring Beth Ditto. Charity single stalwart Paul Well-uh is also there or thereabouts. Thankfully, it doesn’t drown in its own worthiness, and is a pretty catchy slice of upbeat guitar pop, of a quality that ringleaders Supergrass have failed to produce on their own material in recent years. Go here for download links. It’s for charidee, innit?
Robyn – Who’s That Girl
More high-quality pop from everyone’s favourite Scandinavian comeback kid Robyn. It’s not her finest moment, and the fact that it’s now getting on for four years old shows (in a way that it didn’t on, for example, Be Mine.) The influence and input of the Knife is all over this track, of course, which is no bad thing. I’ll take a below-par Robyn single over 90% of everything else released this year…
Brit & Alex – Let It Go
Former child actors who made their UK debut on a hair products ad. This is pretty decent subtley electro-influenced
pop from the soundtrack to Step Up 2: The Streets. It’s got some nice taTu-esque pop melodrama, and some decent sounds, but it’s let down by an annoying growling sample, and a lack of real punch to the chorus. More to come though, doubtless.
Pop Levi – Never Never Love (7”)
Quirky, different-sounding electronic pop from Liverpool Ninjatune signing Jonathan Levi. He’s played bass for Ladytron in the past, but that doesn’t really show through here. This is minimal, leftfield pop, which takes some getting used to but is worth the effort.
Los Campesinos! – My Year In Lists (7”)
Most people who like Los Campesinos tell me this is their favourite LC song. I’m a bit mystified by this claim – it’s not a patch on the effervescent fizz-bomb pop of Death to Los Campesinos!, and is in fact veering a bit close to pedestrian lyric-indie for my liking. It’s saved only by incredible, unique production, with lyrics switching between vocalists seemingly at random. It’s still fantastic that a band this different, this likeable can be getting through to a mass audience (of sorts), though. And it’s under two minutes, which is always a winner in my book.
Dolium – Junkie Howlin’
Enjoyably daft Northern party-rock that brings to mind Terrorvision channeling the B-52s. Good fun.
Delays – Hooray
Some might say that Delays got there a bit too early to hitch a ride on the whole pleasant-but-inoffensive (guitar-)pop bandwagon. The Feeling, and other similar bands, have stolen their thunder a little. It’s a shame, because tracks Delays were producing a few years back, like Long Time Coming, or Lost in a Melody were better pop than anything that’s followed in a similar vein. Hooray is not quite in the same league, having blanded out a little, but should at least put them back on the map.
Jay Sean – Maybe
I’ll never get this kind of bland, wet, lifeless R’n’B. It’s a genre that can only ever be rescued by an absolutely unique tune, and a personality to carry it. This has neither.
Usher feat Young Jeezy – Love In This Club
Ah now, at least here we have someone who can at least do this thing properly. Preposterous overlength video, which sits nicely with the entirely preposterous overblown song it accompanies. But then, that’s what this genre should be doing, surely – not sitting meekly in the corner happy to rely on a ‘slick’ vocal style, but rather ramping up the pomp and shoving everything at it. Good stuff.
El Perro Del Mar – Glory To The World (7”)
I’ve always found Sarah Assbring’s work as El Perro Del Mar fairly uncomfortable listening. It draws on the pop sensibilities and fondness for twee that characterises much Swedish pop, but cloaks it in a fragile, melancholic exterior which can stray a little too close to troubling. This is not to doubt its quality: In a certain mood, it’s perfection. Too often though, it’s uneasy listening. Catch her on tour soon in June in the UK with similar, but slightly more radio-friendly, compatriot Lykke Li.
Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Look For The Woman
Bonus points for introducing elements that lift this a little beyond another bunch of beats with Scroobius Pip talking over them. Here we get to hear a bit of the other bloke singing. Is it an early attempt at crafting their own ‘Dry Your Eyes’-style ballad? If so, it’s not in the same league. Nice enough, though, and shows they have range.
Yoav – Club Thing
Sorry, couldn’t resist – this just reminds me of Flight of the Conchords – go here and see if you can see the similarities. Shame really, as Yoav’s a really interesting live performer. I caught him supporting Underworld, no place for a bloke with an acoustic guitar, you’d think, but man he can make some interesting sounds with that thing. Here’s a better example of what the guy is capable of…
Pendulum – Propane Nightmares
Everyone’s favourite stadium drum’n’bassers return with a new rock-influenced sound. This is not really a good thing, as we get needless Linkin Park-esque whiny vocals spoiling the still-present massive beats. Head back to their finest moment, instead.
Brigade – Pilot
Brit-rockers featuring Will Simpson, brother of Charlie (Busted/Fightstar.) They sit comfortably in between the poppy-punk of younger bro’s former band, and the darker emo-ish rock of the latter. It’s not unpleasant, but not my cup of tea, and it doesn’t half sound dated.
One Night Only – It’s About Time
Second single from these youngsters, following up the chart-humping ‘Just For Tonight.’ But while that track had merit, and suggested a little baby Killers, this one is lacking identity or melody, and the soaring vocals have given way to more Kooks-esque affectation. Not great.
Hadouken! – Declaration Of War
For all the Nintendo-sampling bleeps and bluster, and the enjoyable thrills of previous (novelty?) hit That Boy That Girl, it seems that there isn’t an awful lot of substance to Hadouken! Although Declaration of War moves beyond its predecessor’s blueprint, it’s much less interesting as a result, and hard to get enthusastic about.
Jack McManus – Bang On The Piano
Oh joy, more fluff brought to you by the Brit School. How did pop music come to this? At least the old pop production lines focussed on glamour and sex. These days, it’s all about pseudo-joy, pseudo-depth, and actual blandness. Production-line mediocrity, then. Marvellous.
Ben’s Brother – Stuttering (Kiss Me Again)
Pretty bog-standard slow-paced moany mainstream indie-rock. Despite being British, it sounds deadly American, with its painful earnestness and whingy vocals. This is probably why it’s recently been used over there to advertise chewing gum. Next stop: soundtracks to multiple long-running dull US dramas, no doubt.
The Script – We Cry
Excruciating over-emoting from this Irish trio who have aspirations of being a modern-day U2, but forget that Bono & co. were at least at one time a fresh-sounding, innovative band. This is dull, dirgey stuff that thinks it’s incorporating hip-hop elements just because the singer talks quickly in places.