New Releases 11th August 2008

by MV

Single of the Week: Bloc Party – Mercury
Is this a controversial choice? I’m not sure. Is it even a controversial single choice for Bloc Party? Even less sure. I’ve never been a Bloc Party fan in any way, though I’ll admit they’ve had their moments (Flux being my favourite to date), but there’s something about this one that I can’t resist.

There’s no doubt that it’s a sidestep for the band, and some distance away from indie disco staples like ‘Banquet’ and ‘Helicopter.’ But is it really that radical? In the scheme of things, no. Yet it’s worthy of applause because it’s a major league guitar band prepared to branch out, even just a little, and make something that makes you sit up and take notice.

It won’t be my most played song of the year, but its manic fusion of great beats with nonsense lyrics makes it one of the most interesting mainstream releases so far this year.

Santogold – Lights Out
Tough call this week. Not one of Santi’s strongest moments, this, exemplifying her in Karen O mode, rather than MIA mode. This will get much more of a hammering on my iPod than the Bloc Party track, but is it anywhere near as interesting? Utterly lovely, though.
(The video’s not the official video, but an art school project featuring someone who looks a bit like Santogold. Strangely enough, for once this actually works quite well.)

Broken Records – Slow Parade
Capturing that woozy, swooning melacholia that the Scots always seem to do so well, Broken Records’ second single is a soaring work of real beauty. Not pop in the usual sense that we approve of round these parts, but another kind of perfection. If you’ve ever enjoyed the Delgados, Malcolm Middleton’s solo efforts, or The Twilight Sad, this slow-burner is likely to appeal.
(live video, orginal track available on MySpace)

REM – Man-Sized Wreath
Video number 3 from REM’s best album in years. And this is one of the juicier cuts from it. Firmly rooted in the politcised-pop antics of the Green-era, it’s very definitely the sound of a band that have woken up and realised they’re still capable of sounding fresh and relevant. Great vid, too.

Beck – Gamma Ray
The ever reliable Mr. Hansen returns with an innocuous shuffle of a track that lacks the instant appeal of his occasional grand gestures, and doesn’t really have the warmth of his moments of downbeat accoustica. It’s forgettable, but charmingly so.

City Girls – OMG
The second wannabe ‘next Girls Aloud’ to surface in the last few weeks. While the Saturdays managed a tasteful enough debut effort, if lacking a little in vim. City Girls seem to have the attitude and the looks, but throw it away on a song which would be forgettable if it weren’t for the truly, truly horrible lyrics. “No LOL, you bother me.” “FAO, you got to go.” I could go on. But I won’t.

Delays – Keep It Simple
You have to feel a bit sorry for Delays. They were making chart-friendly mumpop long before The Feeling et al, and they seem to have missed the boat a little. So… how do they stress their continuing relevance to the world of music in 2008? Yes, that’s right, they plug their new record by trumpeting the video featuring Keith from The Office. I’m rolling my eyes right now. The song? It’s no ‘Nearer than Heaven.’

Hamfatter – The Girl I Love
Yes, they were on Dragon’s Den. And they got some money. Back in April I described their last single as ‘Much more pleasant than the atrocious name would suggest.’ To this, I’d add, ‘much less awful than their somewhat desperate appearance on the telly would suggest.’ I’d still thoroughly middling, though. And could you ever like a band called Hamfatter? Seriously?!

Kenna – Say Goodbye To Love
Last time around, I touched on Kenna’s interesting background as the subject of a chapter in a business book. This time I’ll still to the song, which is less obvious than Out of Control, but betrays its Neptunes production too heavily, and is typical of Pharrell’s recent output in that it’s sort of OK without ever really making you sit up and take notice.

Silvery – Devil In The Detail
A bit of sparky Sparks-y vocalising lifts this guitar-pop romp a little higher than its Libertines-jacket wearing visuals would suggest. Not great, as yet, but not boring either.

Solange – I Decided
That’s Solange Knowles to you. Beyonce’s sister makes her big solo debut over here with a polite, sixties-esque, Heatwave-indebted pastiche. It’s all very nice, but there’s nothing new happening here.

Spoon, Harris & Obernik – Baditude
Too many DJs? Maybe not. This is an unashamedly mainstream dance hit which actually sounds like it belongs in 2008, rather than the late 90’s. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great radio track.

Velvet – Fix Me
Generic Euro-cheese that sounds not unlike DJ Sammy’s take on ‘Heaven’. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, you’ll probably know for yourself. I reckon it’s harmless fun.

The Verve – Love Is Noise
Livelier than the Verve of old, but no less lazy. It’s better than most of Ashcroft’s solo stuff, just about. Little else to add.

Wiz Khalifa – Say Yeah
I’m not even going to pretend this song is here for any other reason than to give me an excuse to link to its oh-so-subtly-sampled source material: Better Off Alone by Alice Deejay. Go on, you know you want to…