Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Singles Bar - 10/10/11

Recently, it’s become clear that Bajan pop songstress Rihanna reads No Ripcord and, in particular, The Singles Bar. It’s been discussed before how, ahem, influential these reviews are in terms of future chartplacings and before releasing We Found Love last week, she was clearly nervous. What other explanation could there possibly be for sidestepping tradition and releasing the track midweek, rather than on the standard UK release date of a Monday? It worked though, as We Found Love entered the charts at Number 1. Who knows where it would have ended up if it had gone through The Singles Bar treatment first?
Anyway, here are this week’s tracks.
Veronica Falls – Bad Feeling
Hooray for melodious, perky indie-pop! Bad Feeling has a charming, simple feel to it, like a less polished Blondie or – particularly in the intro – Martha and the Muffins. The vocals are perfectly understated; Veronica Falls appear to be doing their utmost to prove that you can still do great things with the guitar-bass-drums-vocals axis. It doesn’t particularly do anything new and over the course of a whole album, you’d want a touch more invention, but as far as three minutes of escapism in the form of a song goes, you couldn’t ask for a lot more. 8/10
Little Roy – Come As You Are
In case you weren’t aware, Little Roy has just released Battle For Seattle – a record made entirely of reggae versions of Nirvana songs. It’s an absolute delight and comes highly recommended. However, I can only imagine that this single has been picked by a record company employee who hasn’t heard the LP and has based their decision solely on the chart positions of Nirvana singles. While far from terrible, Come As You Are is the worst track on the album, with a cheap sounding replica of the main riff to start and none of the punch and anguish of the original. If you only heard this, you’d be within your rights to dismiss the whole project as a novelty and not investigate further. I implore you, ignore this track and delve into the good stuff that makes up the rest of the record. 5/10
Owl City – Dreams Don’t Turn To Dust
This isn’t FAIR! The first artist to get reviewed twice in the Singles Bar and it’s Adam Young and his horrific Owl City project. Like most of his songs, it sounds like Deathcab For Cutie for pre-schoolers, with a cavalcade of meaningless, trite, nausea-inducing lyrics. 2011 seems to be the year of insulting Owl City on No Ripcord, but it’s really not pre-meditated or organised. It’s just he’s incredibly irritating – with over half a century of popular music to draw from, assimilate and use as a basis for creation, why on earth anybody would choose to make something that sounds like this is utterly beyond me. 2/10
DZ Deathrays – Gebbie Street
Now, THIS is more like it. Within 20 seconds, I’d turned the volume up to full courtesy of a riff so intoxicatingly filthy it’s likely to increase your chances of pregnancy by at least 50%. Everything that follows that riff is bound to be a disappointment, and in a way it is, but that’s not to say Gebbie Street isn’t a great track. The vocals are a tad indistinctive and veer too close to lad-rock, but it has a crunching chorus and that riff (yes, I’m mentioning it again) underpins the whole track expertly. It also has an outrageous,NSFW video that probably violates numerous copyright laws that I couldn’t possibly recommend you seek out for yourself. 8/10 – SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Dionne Bromfield – Get Up Offa That Thing
This really is a mess and a dangerous lesson in what happens when you try to cover too many bases at once. Dionne Bromfield is clearly a talent with a marvellous voice and is possibly capable of great things in the future. However, she’s been thrust into the spotlight a little too quickly recently (she’s the goddaughter of Amy Winehouse) and this James Brown cover really is misjudged. Firstly, following James Brown is an arduous task for anyone, due to the sheer force of personality he put into his songs. Secondly, this version attempts to be urban and modern, and classic and funky at the same time. There are horn stabs and hand claps, breakbeats and sirens. In trying to appeal to everyone, it’s likely to appeal to no-one. It’s also vastly, vastly inferior to the original. Dionne Bromfield could have a great career ahead of her – let’s all just pretend this never happened. 3/10
Girls – Honey Bunny
It sounds like, on Honey Bunny, Girls are attempting to pull off a similar trick to Veronica Falls, but they don’t display the same kind of charm or melodic deftness. Honey Bunny is a little anaemic and sadly can’t be saved by a classic, 60s-inspired chorus. Nice harmonies, a slight surf feel and doesn’t outstay its welcome, but just lacking in a certain something. If you want to hear this kind of thing done better, you could do worse than listen to some Gruff Rhys or Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. 6/10
Joe Jonas – Just In Love
Joe Jonas has clearly been studying the Justin Timberlake route to success. He’s attempting to break out from a hugely successful boyband and go it alone with a more mature, R&B-flavoured sound. However, whereas Timberlake had some fantastic songs and the weight of The Neptunes’ production behind him forJustifiedJust In Love falls a little flat. This is no worse than a fair amount of the R&B/dance tracks around at the moment, but if he doesn’t buck his ideas up reasonably soon, Joe Jonas might find that his name alone isn’t enough to trade on. 4/10
Icona Pop – Nights Like This
Commercial-oriented pop music is usually big, slick and immaculately produced. However, Nights Like Thissounds like it was recorded in a biscuit tin using a Nintendo Game Boy in place of a backing band. However, the real quality of the track shines through the questionable arrangement and the more accustomed you grow to the song’s idiosyncrasies, the more likely you are to break out into a great big grin. This is the sort of quirky pop that should be rocketing up the charts, yet it's sadly probably a little too odd to be a big hit. 7/10
Timbaland – Pass At Me (featuring Pitbull)
James Brown was known as the hardest working man in showbusiness, but that was before Pitbull started guesting on tracks at a rate of roughly one every half hour. He clearly doesn’t spend too much time on his lyrics; here he follows up Give Me Everything’s memorable rhyme of “Kodak” and “Kodak” by rhyming “cover girls” with “cover girls”. Genius. Pitbull’s sticking to his lecherous, sexually aggressive persona (he raps about a girl who “does what I please so she lives on her knees”) while Timbaland’s former glories seem an awfully long time ago. Pass At Me is a confused, mish-mash of a song, haphazardly combining autotune, Latin rhythms, olé-olé chanting and oodles of misogyny. Spare a thought for the poor, unfortunate people of the world who think this is actually worth purchasing with their hard-earned money. 0/10
Jamie N Commons – The Preacher
There’s more than a touch of Nick Cave in Jamie N Common’s dusty tale of religion and murder. However, he doesn’t possess Cave’s way with words or melodic alchemy, preferring instead insipid acoustic guitar motifs and a great deal of bluster. The Preacher sounds like the kind of thing real music bores would try and convince you was the future, when in reality it’s about as interesting as an evening spent reading the back of a jar of pasta sauce. Jamie N Commons will tick the box marked “authenticity” until the cows come home, but The Preacher is a worthy and dull record. 3/10
All The Young – Quiet Night In
There’s only so much of this you can write without beginning to feel a little jaded, so apologies for the prospect of an indie-rock quartet from Stoke-on-Trent not exactly filling me with glee. I believed we were over the worst of landfill indie, that we’d held tight, weathered the storm, and together, emerged out the other side relatively unscathed. No-one told All The Young, with their say-nothing lad-rock that’s totally devoid of wit and inspiration. Quiet Night In is the kind of lumpen, stadium-rock “anthem” that’s best suited to accompanying a sporting montage or a shopping trip to Foot Locker. 3/10
Matt Cardle – Run For Your Life
The team behind Matt Cardle must be tearing their hair out. Despite being primarily known as an X Factor winner, he seems to be intent on marketing himself as a serious, credible artist. This approach is likely to lead him nowhere, as he’ll fall between the cracks – too mainstream for indie and too indie for the mainstream. Run For Your Life is a typical power ballad: heartfelt first verse, epic chorus, second verse as before but with drums, and so on. It’s difficult to know who’d listen to this sorry exercise – the world’s already got one James Morrison and this isn’t the kind of thing the public tend to enjoy from their talent show winners, especially male ones. Hey, I’ve just noticed this single release coincides with the return of the X Factor live shows on Saturday nights. Now, there’s a coincidence. 1/10
Gym Class Heroes – Stereo Hearts (featuring Adam Levine)
In his famous experiment, Ivan Pavlov caused a dog to create an unconscious relationship between ringing a bell and food, so that the dog would salivate whenever a bell was rung, regardless of whether there was food available. I have been classically conditioned to create a similar link between the voice of Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and imagining going on a murderous rage armed with an axe (I only said “imagining” – fret not). You don’t expect much from a man who thinks having “moves like Jagger” is somehow a good thing andStereo Hearts doesn’t (or does, depending on how you look at it) disappoint. Gym Class Heroes do their pathetic, b-boy rapping over the top and the whole thing sounds like a pretty convincing argument against the entire concept of music. 0/10
Kate Bush – Wild Man
Will I get lynched if I say I don’t think this is particularly good? It has its moments of intrigue, like any Kate Bush song, but the overall feeling is that the unexpected twists and turns are papering over the cracks where a song should be. The verses have Eastern inflections and half-whispered vocals before giving way to a soaring chorus. Clearly it’s a good thing that someone who has been releasing music (albeit sporadically) for so long is still prepared to take risks and refuse to rest on their laurels, but this track just isn’t quite there. The music world could do with more people like Kate Bush, but fewer songs like Wild Man5/10

No comments: