Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Yet, here we are in 2007 and despite the introduction of new producers into proceedings, including Pharrell Williams, in an attempt to break new ground it's the "old sound" of The Hives that comes to the fore on the Black And White Album...it's not bad at all.
The likes of Tick, Tick Boom and Return The Favour are up there with the best things they've done and whilst they can't keep that up over the running time of this somewhat over-long album (15 tracks of The Hives is too much for me in one sitting) there's more than enough in the album to enjoy.
Subtle and innovative it may not be, fun and worth a listen it most certainly is.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
And that's the first impression you get from listening to Blackout. Spear's voice is twisted and contorted by any number of technical processes and it's only that peculiar Southern twang that confirms it is indeed Britney.
And immediately we're into the problems. There is, quite simply, something wrong with Britney. She's not right. It's easy to laugh (or indeed compare her treatment to the treatment that the "talented" Amy Winehouse gets) but anyone with the merest touch of human kindness within them must feel at least a little sorry for her. The problem is that it's left us with an album that has not an ounce of her own personality on it and one, if we're being frank, seems to have been put together with only the merest of input from it's "star."
That said, there are enough catchy pop tunes to ensure that the album is far from a complete washout. Lead single Gimme More deserves it's UK top 5 status, and could well be joined by the likes of Hot As Ice, the Neptunes produced Why Should I Be Sad? and Piece Of Me (with it's seminal lyric "I'm Mrs. Oh-My-God that Britney's shameless" - which pretty much sums up the entire project).
Yes, it could be any identikit young female popstrel on the decks and there's little lyrical insight into Britney's descent from fresh faced superstar to the single mother of two kids who can't even get custody of them due to her "personal demons". Yet for all those problems, and with a nod that it might simply be due to the fact that no-one expected much of it at all, this is not the terrible car-crash album that it could have been. Largely soulless it may be, but it at least does have the benefit of some catchy pop tunes.
Monday, October 29, 2007
And whislt we're here, how the hell can Simply Red "split up"?
Anwyay, onto the serious stuff.
Ladytron's Destroy Everything You Touch gets a pointless re-release this week, but my god it is a killer track.
It's better than New Young Pony Club's Get Lucky, but that's a bloody good tune too.
Other good ones this week are Gilt Complex by Sons & Daughters, Terra Firma by The Young Knives and Handle Me by Robyn (no matter how the fact that the likes of Edith Bowman are banging on about Robyn as if she's some totally new artist that no one had heard of prior to With Every Heartbeat annoys me).
Not very good this week are You And Me by One Night Only, We Used To Vacation by Cold War Kids and The Night Sky by Keane.
Absolutely terrible, of course, is the new Westlife one. But did anyone really expect anything else?
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
It therefore may put you off to learn that Yasmin Levy, a striking Israeli singer in her early 30's has a mission to revive the language and one such result is Mano Suave. But anyone who would ignore this album on that basis alone is missing out on a treat.
The real strength of the album is Levy's passionate and charismatic voice which transcends the language of the lyrics. It's all the more striking when set amid sparse percussion arrangements.
Highlights include the soaring title track (which features guest vocals from Natacha Atlas) and, with it's infectious blend of piano and fiddle, Komo La Roza.
By it's very definition it's not going to be an album for everyone, but anybody with a love of "world" music or someone with a suitably open mind will surely find much to delight them on this stunning album.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Anyway, after the salsa it was onto the Barfly to catch the last of the support act and wonder how we were going to get a decent view as the petite venue looked ram-packed to buggery. Thankfully as we went in to the venue, the entire left hand side was empty thanks to a large pole (no, not Gregor Rasiak) and no-one else had seemingly had the great idea to actually stand at the side of the pole and thus get a second row view of the concert.
First impressions were that Macdonald looks like a twelve year old and if I am being honest upon the first song kicking in I had to stifle a laugh at her voice. But I soon got used to it and am glad to report that I had a top notch crew night all of the way.
She packs a powerful punch that you wouldn't expect of her, has some genuinely good tunes and I even have to admit to finding her witty banter compelling. Sadly though, Dave has already decided, thanks to the "music, football, teasely" thing, that she's his future wife so I will have to look on with jealousy.
Seeing her so soon after watching the mighty Tunstall might be a tad ironic, but shockingly I would have to say that I enjoyed Amy Macdonald more tonight than I did KT last week.
Monday, October 22, 2007
In a sense, Amerie shows her how to do it this week with the wonderful Crush. It's even better than the Jennifer Page Crush. Not that there is anything else in common with that song other than the title!
I do like that Kings Of Leon new one. Which makes their credit chart up to two (Molly's Chamber obviously being the other one). Which is a start is it not?
That Freemasons feat Bailey Tzuke track is quite a good one too (I know, what is up with me this week?). Even finding out it was written by Alanis Morissette didn't put me off it. Which is something is it not?
How nice of Amy Winehouse to get arrested just before Mark Ronson's Valerie gets a release. It's better than the Zutons, but then what isn't?
McFly are getting boring. Mutya Buena, meanwhile, just keeps on coming up with new ways of staying boring. Newton Faulkner almost gets a "not bad" for All I Got...but i'm not that crazy.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
In all seriousness though, at least we're not in Hoosiers territory.
But, no, definitely actually starting the review now, for a brief moment you think that this is going to be something special indeed.
The opening trio of songs are really rather good. Keep On Walking is joined by top 5 smash single She's So Lovely and breakthrough hit It's Not About You. And you're thinking "this is really rather great".
But then you hit a wall and realise that this is as good as it gets. It's not to say that the rest is awful, just more of the same in a not as good way.
It is a fun, catchy album which diverts for a while but ultimately fails to totally convince.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
So it was onto the palatial Apollo itself, skilfully avoiding the support act, to take our seats. Now I'm a big Tunstall fan and do actually like Drastic Fantastic very much (unlike some other fans who've been with her since the beginning) but there was something just not quite clicking for a lot of this concert for me. As I've said before, the first time I saw her live was so special (and quite unexpectedly brilliant - in the sense I had no real idea what to expect) that nothing has quite managed to live up to that since.
Which is not to say that this was in any way a bad evening, because it most certainly wasn't, even if it had it's, dare I say it, dull moments.
I'm sure the 10 people in attendance who have Acoustic Extravaganza loved Ashes and Gone To The Dogs, but they were two songs I had no real desire to listen to. And if I'm being honest, making a big deal about swearing ceased to be hilario when I was about seven years old. And continuing in an honest vein, I can't say I cared much for the "witty" banter at times.
Still there were great swathes I thoroughly enjoyed. THE highlight had to be Black Horse & Cherry Tree, which in it's own way is telling. The likes of Suddenly I See and Hold On came close, even if I'm one of the few people who actually thinks Hold On was a great single.
A good night then, but not quite a great one.
As an aside though, I am in love with one of her backing singers.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
It's obvious that Roisin Muprhy was a little upset that her critically acclaimed debut solo album Ruby Blue sold so few copies because Overpowered sees her crank up the, you know, tunes on the follow up Overpowered.
Of course there will be those who accuse her of watering down her sound, or worse still "selling out", but that is all a load of patent nonsense. Yes, its "accessible" but it's no less delightful that the wilfully experimental Ruby Blue. In fact I'd say, without a doubt, it's the better of the two albums as it still packs in more invention and unpredictability than most albums in the name of "pop" do.
From the likes of the title track, current single Let Me Know and You Know Me Better it's really difficult to pick out THE standout track. Most of it is excellent, with the only real disappointment for me being Dear Miami, which never really seems to get going.
A great album, packed with great tunes that never lose the fact that Murphy has a superb voice. Call it disco, call it dance, call it pop...call it what you like, it still adds up to one of the best albums of the year.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
1. Flowers In The Rain - Kaiser Chiefs
In a word, dreadful. It's like a really really bad Kaiser Chiefs song, and lord knows that their best ones can get tiresome.
2. All Along The Watchtower - Fratellis
Well this one is going well isn't it. I really really do hate the Fratellis, so this isn't really going to be the most unbiased of verdicts. But really there is something laughable about them even attempting this song and the end result isn't any more pleasurable than you'd expect. But, as its a better song that any of their own twaddle, this is better than anything else they've ever done.
3. Cupid - Amy Winehouse
Hmm. Passable is the best I can get for this one. A bit too close to what you'd expect from her to really get any better than that.
4. Lola - Robbie Williams
All the invention of making the cover version sound as much like the original as you can. That said, Robbie always has a certain charm which makes this one of the better ones.
5. Your Song - The Streets
Is Mike Skinner taking the piss? If this is tongue in cheek then it may well be the greatest thing ever put on record. If he was being serious, then god help us all. But in all honesty if you can get past the first part, in which his "vocals" are beyond piss-poor, it actually builds up quite a crescendo.
6. Betcha By Golly Wow - Sugababes
Out of all the up-tempo catchy tunes they could have done from the past 40 years, they do this, which is very very dull. It's one of those "oh, but look, they can really sing" songs that they do every, oh, three months. And the world is none the better for them doing it.
7. You're So Vain - Feeling
The Feeling may be naff, in a good "Supertramp" way, but this is a step too far even for me. I'm not sure "camp" was what they were aiming for with this one, but it just doesn't suit the singers voice. A valiant effort I suppose.
8. Band On The Run - Foo Fighters
Manages to combine the dullness of their acoustic phase with the head-banging side of their repertoire. I'm already beginning to lose the will to live if I'm being honest.
9. Love Is The Drug - Kylie Minogue
Against all the odds I like this. It's Kylie doing what she does best.
10. Let's Stick Together - KT Tunstall
If KT never did another good song ever, I'd love her for this alone. I've a feeling that the best ones on this whole shebang are going to be the ones where people aren't taking the damn thing too seriously.
11. Sound And Vision - Franz Ferdinand
12. Teenage Kicks - Raconteurs
Pointless. But then again, the Raconteurs are pretty pointless when all is said and done.
13. Can't Stand Losing You - Mika & Armand Van Helden
The second good Mika song in existence? Jesus Christ, this week has been tough on me.
14. Too Much Too Young - Kasabian
A "cover version by numbers" if ever there was one. But then again I hate Kasabian so what do I know?
15. Under Pressure - Keane
If ever a cover version should be wronger than wrong, this is it. But remarkably this is very, very brilliant.
16. Town Called Malice - McFly
Oh, look, just like when we did that Who song, we like proper music you know. In other words a totally perfunctory cover version that will enrich your life not a jot.
17. Come Back And Stay - James Morrison
I'll whisper it quietly, but I quite like this one....
18. Careless Whisper - Gossip
I'm sure somebody somewhere though this was "arch" and "hip" in an ironic way. All it is is absolute tosh.
19. Power Of Love - Pigeon Detectives
I was so happy when this was the Huey Lewis song and not the Frankie Goes To Hollywood one. They don't do it justice mind you, but then surely their attempt at the Frankie song would have been 100 times worse.
20. Don't Get Me Wrong - Lily Allen
Another one of those by the numbers covers. But my dad likes it.
1. You Sexy Thing - Stereophonics
Every bit as fucking terrible as you would expect. I'm sorry, I do try to keep the language on this site at PG level, with the occasional trip into 12A, but this deserves the use of the f-bomb. How am I ever supposed to remember with a fondness the time Dawn wrote the lyrics to this on my laptop screensaver? Hell, at least she didn't find my porn.
2. Fast Car - Mutya Buena
As if to reinforce the notion that she hasn't an original idea in her head, Mutya delivers this, very blandly.
3. Lullaby - Editors
The singer's voice really annoys me, more than ever in this song, but it's a pretty decent stab at the Cure classic.
4. Englishman In New York - Razorlight
Does life get any better than this? I'll say no more as I don't really feel the need to unleash any more f-bombs. Safe to say, I sincerely wish that Johnny Borrell was an Englishman In New York, or possibly even somewhere further away that that.
5. Crazy For You - Groove Armada
One of those songs that seems to be going nowhere but has a kind of hypnotic beauty. I like it.
6. It Must Be Love - Paolo Nutini
An absolute travesty. And to top it off it sounds like its UB40 doing it.
7. All That She Wants - The Kooks
Ok, so I'll probably never like The Kooks, but this is pretty damn good. It's a great song anyway, and they've tried something different with it. Thumbs up.
8. You're All I Need To Get By - Mark Ronson
As he does nothing else but covers it's a bit pointless having the Ronson on here. But maybe Nigella Express needed another song for background music. Not as good as anything off his album. Apart from that Kasabian one. But that doesn't count as everyone knows they are rubbish.
9. Stillness In Time - Calvin Harris
I love Calvin Harris and this is a funky 80's style beat-bomb. Or something.
10. No Diggity - Klaxons
Yes, another example of how great the Klaxons are. Yes, that was sarcasm.
11. Lovefool - Just Jack
I didn't think anything could make me hate Just Jack any more than I already do. Patiently, I was wrong.
12. Ray Of Light - Bedingfield, Natasha
Great vocal performance doesn't save this being very annoying.
13. Drinking In LA - The Twang
Just when you thought The Twang couldn't get any worse, they prove you incorrect.
14. Great Beyond - Fray
If I never hear another Fray song, it will still be far too soon.
15. Teenage Dirtbag - Girls Aloud
This is also pretty rubbish; they could at least have done their version of Rehab or something.
16. Like I Love You - Maximo Park
Very, very funny.
17. Don't Look Back Into The Sun - The View
Oh, the irony. I do with The View would disappear from, erm, view.
18. Toxic - Hard-Fi
Well it's comfortably the best thing they've ever done.
19. Father And Son - The Enemy
Hmm. Another bad one.
20. Steady As She Goes - Corinne Bailey Rae
She used to be in a punk band you know. And it's pretty easy to see why that didn't work out.
Overall this is for curiosity value only. There's very little I'd have any great desire to listen to ever again.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
It's not very often that I would call something the Pet Shop Boys released "perfunctory"; sadly this is one of those rare occasions.
It's not the concept that is a problem in itself, bringing together as it does some rather wonderful remix collaborations with the likes of Madonna, David Bowie and The Killers, more that with no liner notes there isn't the feeling that this is something of a "must have". It's also not a complete retrospection of their remix work, with the omission of the Girls and Boys remix being particularly sad.
Throw in one excellent PSB own remix (I'm With Stupid) and one so-so one (Integral) and you have a decent collection but not one that that any non-PSB obsessive needs in their collection. Still, at least it's not Disco 2 all over again is it?
Monday, October 15, 2007
The Wombats - Lets Dance To Joy Division
Blood Red Shoes – I Wish I Was Someone Better
Mika – Happy Ending (no, really I do)
This week I QUITE LIKE;
Concretes – Keep Yours
Richard Hawley – Serious
Robots in Disguise - The Sex Has Made Me Stupid
Jimmy Eat World – Big Casino
This week I COULD REALLY DO WITHOUT:
Common feat Lily Allen - Drivin' Me Wild
Timbaland & OneRepublic – Apologize
Los Campesinos! - International Tweexcore Underground
I HOPE I NEVER HAVE THE PAIN OF HEARING THIS EVER AGAIN:
Orson – Ain’t No Party
Sunday, October 14, 2007
We missed the support act (which didn't sound a bad thing from what I could hear) and settled in nicely for the Editors. Who I don't really hate, despite my comments from time to time. That said, the lead singer's voice does get on my nerves. And it did get on my nerves.
That's not to say it totally got on my nerves, just during the slow ones. Which I really don't like. That said songs like Munich, Bones, Sparks and that new one are pretty damn good. And this is the third time that I've seen them live, so I doth protest too much on occasions. But that's funny.
27th January - Ben Folds - Manchester Apollo
29th January - Nerina Pallot - Manchester Academy 2
30th January - The Hedrons - Night & Day, Manchester
11th February - Sandi Thom - The Lowry, Salford
18th February - The Long Blondes, Manchester Academy
222nd February - Bat For Lashes - RNCM, Manchester
10th March - Lily Allen, Manchester Apollo
28th March - Kate Nash - Night & Day, Manchester
17th April - The Pipettes - Ritz, Manchester
20th April - Lucy Porter (comedy gig) - The Lowry, Salford
20th May - Girls Aloud - MEN Arena, Manchester
3rd June - Kate Nash - Late Room, Manchester
30th June - Suzanne Vega - Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
12th July - Bat For Lashes - Manchester Academy 3
19th July - Feist - Manchester Academy 3
16th August - Sophie Ellis Bextor - Parr Hall, Warrington
21st August - Rilo Kiley - Manchester Academy 3
9th September - Natasha Bedingfield - Manchester Apollo - POSTPONED
27th September - New Young Pony Club - Ritz, Manchester
7th October - Frank Skinner (Comedy) - Lowry, Manchester
14th October - Editors - Manchester Apollo
19th October - KT Tunstall - Manchester Apollo
23rd October - Amy Macdonald - Barfly, Liverpool
1st November - The Donnas - Club Academy, Manchester
5th November - Kate Nash - Manchester Academy
18th November - Rilo Kiley - Stanley Theatre, Liverpool
25th November - Scouting For Girls - Liverpool Academy
11th December - Jenny Owen Youngs - Night & Day, Manchester
1st March - Natasha Bedingfield - Manchester Apollo
4th March - Kate Nash - Manchester Apollo
14th March - Inspiral Carpets - Manchester Academy
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Down In Albion certainly suggested cynicism was in order; to be frank it was a complete mess. But that's what you get when you let a junkie have control over proceedings.
Still at least someone has had the sense to draft in producer Stephen Street in for the recording of this album. The producer, famous for his work with The Smiths and Blur to name but two, brings a nice touch of decorum to proceedings. Indeed this album actually feels like a finished product and, quite surprisingly, results in some decent tracks.
The likes of Lost Art Of Murder and There She Goes approach something special, which I suppose will add fuel to the fire of those who insist that Doherty is a genius, not just a dirty, disaffected drug abuser.
The thing is that this is only a handful of tracks. Most of the rest is the kind of standard indie Rock that is slightly a cut above The View's of this world but is still distinctly average. More depressing still is the realisation that this counts as an improvement in the world of Doherty. The main problem remains that Doherty has confused the endless Tabloid stories about himself as a sign that his life is interesting or worth talking about. It's not. And not even Stephen Street can make it worth listening to.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I love women and I love piano's. So anything that combines the two is sure to be a winner with me, right?
So despite the fact that it's certainly easy to get blasé about yet another female songwriter, if you ignore the delightful Sara Bareilles then it's you that's losing out.
This is quite simply a delight.
Love Song, a former I-Tunes Single Of The Week, is a good indication of what to expect from a lot of the album. Straight up, catchy melodies backed up with Bareilles' gorgeous voice. The likes of Fairytale, Morningside and Vegas are delightful, but Bareilles can also excel on the slower stuff as well. Gravity, in particular, is a real tear-jerker.
If I was summing her up, I'd probably go for "a less willfully uncommercial Fiona Apple". And whilst she can never quite match up to Apple, on more than a few occasions she comes mighty close. And that's more than good enough for me.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I'll pause momentarily whilst you laugh.
But I am being serious; this really is a "hits" collection from Jamelia. Of course she's had 7 top hits in her time, but really the fact that there's no new tracks, no new artwork or, well, no new anything on this collection should be proof enough that this is merely a chance for her ex-record company to make a last bit of money off their old employee.
It doesn't even include all her "hits".
Still you have to give some credit where it's due. Beware Of The Dog was the best number 1 that never was in 2006 and Superstar is at least a memorable track. No More, with it's Golden Brown sample, was another winner (despite failing to trouble the top 40 this year) and I've always thought See It In A Boy's Eye's is a great tune; and yes, I am aware of the Chris Martin connection with that one!
On the merits of the songs alone, this isn't too bad at all, but its difficult as a listener to avoid the fact that it's compiling a career that there's no real need to compile.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Isn't it funny that the Sugababes, who are as "put together" as the next pop band could get such critical acclaim. Actually that's not strictly true is it? They are more "put together" than the average pop band, currently onto their third incarnation.
It's also doubtful if that, early hits such as Overload and Round Round aside, the babes have ever really laid down a marker in terms of personality. Indeed, whilst there is no denying a Girls Aloud single these days means something quite unique, for example, there are many songs on Change that could be any half decent pop band.
And this has always been the problem with the Sugababes. Their early brilliance soon gave way to more commercial concerns and ever since their albums have been by their very definition patchy affairs.
A couple of radio friendly stompers are mixed with some dull, but commercially viable, ballads and joined with a load of filler that we are told they wrote themselves (albeit it with a cast of thousands helping out).
So as it goes, current single Feel About You provides the upbeat lead single (though it's no Hole In The Head), 3 Spoons Of Suga backs this up, whilst the likes of Undignified and the title track provide the dull but parent friendly ballads.
There's no denying my Girls Aloud bias in the Sugababes/GA "battle" but when faced with an album like this there is little doubt I'm in the right corner. Far from the feisty, independent trio the Babes claim to be, this album shows them to be little more than the much decried "norm" of pretty faces for pop backing tunes. And that needn't be a criticism, but when they're provided with a set of "tunes" as lacking in originality and pizazz as these you start to wonder what the point of the exercise is.
No doubt the marketing will make sure it sells by the bucketload; but that doesn't make it any good.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Alj & AJ's Potential Breakup Song is first up this week. And it's a corker. It's got more invention than you've any right to expect from an American Manufactured Pop single.
As you'd expect, the law of diminishing returns is at play with Amy MacDonald's new single LA. And is it just me or does she have a total of ONE idea for her promo video's?
Curvy Cola Bottle Body by Chico is so funny. Probably becuase it's terrible, but in a very funny way. If you could believe he was taking the piss you' be proclaiming him as a genius.
I mean it's miles better than Gwen Stefani's latest effort, Now That U Got It. Someone needs to reign her in if you know what I mean.
I hate the Hoosiers. So there.
They're better than Biffo Clyro though.
On the other hand, I love Roisin Murphy. Let Me Know is a stomper. Pity about those distracting nipples in the video. Wear a bra love.
Natasha Bedingfield attempts to save her career this week with a "featuring Adam Levine" tag line...she fails.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
Ok, so it means that you have to sit through a hell of a lot of dross but when you come across something as good as Monkey Swallows The Universe you can forgive any number of dreadful artists with a Myspace page.
Oh yes, The Casket Letters is good. In fact it's very good. It's certainly one of the best "unknown" albums I've come across this year...hell it's one of THE best albums full stop.
First of all it clocks in at 35 minutes, well within the 45 minute maximum that should be made a law. Secondly it has some of the catchiest, and loveliest, folk pop songs you're likely to hear all year. Little Polveir is one of my favourite tracks of the year although it's got a lot of competition from the likes of Science or Elizabeth and Mary.
Lead singer's Nat Johnson's vocals are to die for, bringing a dreamy quality to the proceedings. But the tunes back it up superbly.
Frankly, if you're reading this, the very next thing you should do is go and order this album. It really is that good. I wish I had more time to wax lyrical about it, I really do, but trust me on this one. You need to hear this.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
But it's not her fault. I can attest to that 100%. It's all Mike "Fucking" Batt's fault. The guy is a grade A knob-head. I went to a Katie Melua concert once, but half of it was taken up with his unfunny anecdotes and stories. Yes Mike, we know you wrote the bloody Wombles song.
And he writes all her lyrics.
So we get gems like "Douglas Fairbanks wore a moustache, must have had "much cash" too". And thus, less than 30 seconds in to this album we have already reached a low point from which there is no hope of return.
Simply put, the melodies are lilting enough to woo the Radio 2 crowd but anyone who takes more than a cursory glance at the lyrics is going to be in pain for days. There is quite literally nothing on this album that I'll be listening to ever again.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Anyway, there's nothing out of the ordinary here. It's exactly like you'd expect Reba to sound with the addition of a few special guests.
If Reba's your kind of thing then you're in for a treat. If not, aside for the curiosity value of a few tracks you really needn't bother yourself with this.