New Releases 12th May 2008
Single of the Week: The Outside Royalty – Falling
Controversial choice, this, for me, as it breaks most of the rules I seem to have been following this year for my favourite singles. No girl vocals, not a hint of a bleep or whoosh, and it even prominently features guitars. Shocker.
At first glance, I thought this lot were going to be another generic collection of post-Libertines oiks (see below for the inevitable dose of that for this week.) But nope, turns out we’ve got a lo-fi take on Arcade Fire, with a vocalist that alternately channels Bryan Ferry and Jarvis. They’re a Pennsylvania band who’ve relocated to London, and this is their debut single release. And it’s great. It’s even got a crescendo that could rival Pulp at their most Pop. Absolutely my most exciting discovery of the week, and, despite a few misfiring lyrics, it should be yours too. MySpace for more.
Ladytron – Ghosts
I love Ladytron. In fact, although this isn’t their strongest single, it would have been Single of the Week had I not been distracted by the surprise-factor of a guitar band actually producing something good for once. This is as near to classy electro-pop perfection as it gets. I often throw around words like ‘polite’ and ‘tasteful’ on this blog, usually when I’m extremely bored by a song. The trick that Ladytron have perfected is managing to create music that is polite, but is also subtly affecting, concealing real beauty and a real talent for pop melody. It doesn’t whack you around the face, but it doesn’t need to.
In fact, I’m in a Ladytron kind of mood, so to make up for not giving them single of the week, here are a few career highlights in tasty video form: Playgirl, The Way That I Found You (live), Seventeen, Evil (single mix), Destory Everything You Touch. Don’t say I never give you anything, hey?
Black Lips – Bad Kids
They describe themselves as ‘flower punk’ and I’d struggle to top that. ‘Bad Kids’ is a joyful, fun romp with an 80s-hardcore ethic behind it. What that means is, you get the message without the punishing seriousness usually found in these endeavours, yet it stays well on the right side of being overly quirky or daft. It’s a sort of folk-punk hoedown, with singalong lyrics in the video. Easily more fun that everything released this week.
Hot Chip – One Pure Thought
More evidence that, when it comes to singles at least, Hot Chip can basically do no wrong. This doesn’t have the immediate grin-factor of ‘Ready For The Floor’, but it’s almost what the word ‘charming’ was made for. It bubbles and floats along happily, never really surprising, but always cheering. Bonus marks for cartoon Hot Chippers playing their legs on top of the delightfully incongruous guitar solo. Like a chilled bottle of water on a muggy, humid day. Beautiful.
Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name
I actually had a dream about this song the other night. That’s how ridiculously pervasive the thing is – I can’t even escape it when I’m asleep. It was actually quite a fun dream, involving me shouting the chorus vocals at someone down a colourful corridor. I toyed, for a second, with giving this Single of the Week, just to wind people up. Well, that and the fact that it’s actually a little bundle of fun pop. Admittedly one that grates a bit on repeated listening, but then what music doesn’t grate if you hear it twenty times a day?
Midnight Juggernauts – Shadows
It took me a little while to figure out what this uber-cool Melbourne band’s latest single was reminding me of, and then I realised it’s essentially a slowed down version of Starlight by the Supermen Lovers! That’s definitely not a bad thing, and at least it doesn’t have deformed Mr. Potato Heads in the video. Instead, it comes across as kinda trendy and that, and if you forget the comparison I just made, you might dream up an image of 70s Bowie fronting Daft Punk circa Discovery. All round pretty great, really.
Cassie – Is It You
Yet another single from the Step Up 2: The Streets soundtrack. It’s uber-slick US R’n’B, of course, but it’s a fine example of the genre. Recalling TLC’s finest moments (particularly, and perhaps a little too blatantly, ‘Unpretty’) it’s got a pleasing subtlety and reserve about it which is too often absent from tracks like this. The official video above seems to be a weaker piano-led version of the far superior original here.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – More News From Nowhere
Disappointingly low-key affair following the neon-lit glam stomp of previous single Dig Lazarus Dig!!!!, but give this one time and it’s got a hypnotic, almost sexy feel to it. Which is more than you can say for the Cavester’s dressed-down t-shirt look in the video. Bring back the sharp suits!
Ida Maria – Queen Of The World
I reckon Ida Maria is a bit too much of an easy target for slagging at the moment. Pretty girl making unchallenging, fun guitar music, easy to knock. Sure, it’s been done a thousand times before, but sometimes good singles don’t have to be an exercise in difficulty, or even originality. This one just makes me smile. OK, so it’s geared to please 14-year-old wannabe alternative types in tiaras (do they still exist? They did in the 90s, definitely), but hey… ‘I’m the queen of the world, I bump into things.’ What’s not to like?
Paramore – That’s What You Get
Just for comparison, I guess this is a less successful version of the same blueprint, but from a US pop/pop-punk-influenced perspective. It’s still not at all unpleasant, but despite the Avril feel to it, doesn’t quite hit the same pleasure buttons.
Lightspeed Champion – Galaxy Of The Lost
I’m mindful of the fact that I slagged off Dev from Test Icicles’ last solo single at the time, and it’s sort of grown on me in a bit of a massive kind of way. Ahem. Thus, I’m going to tread carefully around this one. It’s not grabbing me instantly, but it’s not unpleasant acoustica either – pretty guitars and prettier girl backing vocals. I’ll give it time…
Lil Mama – Shawty Get Loose
Nice take-off of the Jacksons’ ‘Scream’ video, and some great, fresh-sounding delivery from Lil’ Mama. Beyond that, though, it doesn’t really kick into action for me. It’s a lot livelier than other recent releases in the genre, but, for me, it’s a bit of a case of sound and fury…
Born Ruffians – I Need A Life
They are Canadian. They are on Warp Records. They have appeared on Skins. Shall we assume they’re pretty hot right now, then? Definitely yes, but is there any substance beyond the cool? On this evidence, there’s some. A first-album Strokes style breeziness, supplemented by raucous gang-backing-vocals makes for a pretty enjoyable listen. Not a whole lot of depth, but there are a whole lot of chickens in the video, which kind of makes up for that.
Chanelle Hayes – I Want It
Leaving aside the tacky Nuts-esque soft-porn video, this isn’t too bad an effort from the former Big Brother contestant. OK, her voice is weak, and the production sounds a couple of years out of date, but close your eyes and it could almost be a weaker offcut from Britney’s latest album. And that’s better than I’d have expected, at least.
Colin MacIntyre – Be My Saviour
Colin used to be known as Mull Historical Society. He made some good pop songs that were never going to be popular in a million years. Seemingly, he’s now going for the slightly more ‘serious’ angle. He’s got his headphones on in the video, see, and he’s going by his own name. The song essentially remains the same, though, and it’s a solid blast of pop-rock. Still unlikely to make a sizeable impact, as it was the songs rather than the name which were probably a bit too weird for public consumption. Bad luck, public.
Teenagers In Tokyo – Very Vampyr
Australian band making fun, girl-fronted, electro-tinged garage rock. It all sounds a bit three years ago, and quite a lot like the Gossip. Not awful, but quite missable, if I’m honest.
Guildean Gang – Swirls
When confronted by yet another post-Libertines band, the only real question is whether it’s ‘a good tune’, or whether it’s just more of the same yawn. Obviously it’s not rewriting the rule book, obviously we’re bored bored bored of this stuff, but it’s got a summery vibe about it, and isn’t too offensive. Good in its overcrowded field.
The Raconteurs – Salute Your Solution
It’s strange to think that 7 years ago there was something exciting, and quite thrilling about Jack White’s music. It had a refreshing minimalism and sweetness about it that managed to subvert and overcome its obvious heavily retro influences. Since then, he’s gone further back into those influences, culminating in the formation of the resolutely trad-rock Raconteurs side-project. While there’s still charm present, particularly in the second half of this latest release, it’s hard not to yearn for those early red-and-white tinted days.
The Pigeon Detectives – This Is An Emergency
Probably the most unpromisingly named band in recent history, and they’ve done little to lift themselves above it so far. This is more of the same, I’m afraid, with a whole lot of bluster attempting to overcompensate for a total lack of interesting ideas, and not much of a tune.
David Jordan – Move On
Is this the new Jamiroquai, then? Previous single Sun Goes Down at least had a bit of a ‘huh?’ factor about it. This is just overly slick, fairly insipid dated-sounding average-pop.