Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Singles Bar: 05/03/12

Now we’re into the third month of the year, the biggest festivals are starting to reveal their line-ups. With no Glastonbury in 2012, there’s a chance for an act at one of the smaller events to make a late surge and soundtrack the summer. To do that, you need a good build-up, and perhaps by releasing a top quality single, you’ll win No Ripcord’s Single Of The Week award, and all your dreams will come true. Let’s see who’s aiming for the summit this week.

Turnpike Glow – 1986

We begin the first Singles Bar of the month with Anglo-Italians Turnpike Glow. Instantly, the keyboard riff brings MGMT to mind, particularly Kids, but from that point on it’s enjoyable, punchy indiepop with elements of shoegaze fuzz. Reportedly inspired by a Guardian headline, 1986 is a slick track that has the hooks of a band far more renowned and established. Turnpike Glow may not be tearing up the rule book, but who cares when the sugar-coated melodies are this strong and addictive? On the production side, it’s a bit too lo-fi for its own good at times, but that’s the only thing from stopping 1986 being a bona fide power-pop classic. Turnpike Glow are most certainly a band to watch. 8/10 – SINGLE OF THE WEEK

Dot Rotten – Are You Not Entertained?

It’s a joke that could get old fairly quick but, for the time being, I still find it pretty funny that an MC has named himself Dot Rotten. It’s a fairly aggressive lyrical attack that sounds like a turbo-charged, UK grime version of Mos Def’s Oh No. There’s a real edge to Are You Not Entertained? but Dot Rotten seems to have found the perfect meeting point between hard grime and chart-friendly pop and, as a result, the track manages to remain exciting while appealing to a wide audience. The buzzing bass propels things along and as Dot (or should that be Mr. Rotten?) half-sings the chorus, it’s difficult not to get swept along by the whole shebang. If someone like Labrinth can be hugely successful in the UK (though he is signed to Syco, admittedly), there’s no reason Dot Rotten can’t reap similar rewards. 8/10

Enter Shikari – Arguing With Thermometers

I was on the verge of pronouncing Arguing With Thermometers the most ridiculous song title of all-time, until I noticed there’s another track on the Enter Shikari album called Gandhi Mate, Gandhi. Arguing With Thermometers is a bizarre song, starting out as screaming hardcore before morphing into bouncy Latin-inspired rock and then a dubstep-influenced spoken word piece. If this all sounds like a complete mess, that’s because it is. It’s the Lostprophets meets Funeral For A Friend meets Hadouken! mash-up that the world didn’t really need. There are flashes of melody and a tune, but they seem accidental really. Overall, Arguing With Thermometers is messier than an Eton Mess that’s been dropped on a messy floor and then been trodden on by Lionel Messi. 3/10

Jakwob – Electrify

Fans of nominative determinism are sure to love Jakwob, as it appears to be the noise that’s synonymous with dubstep (go on, say it, “ja-KWWWWOOOOOOOOOBBBBBBBBBB!”). Actually, although there are dubstep elements to Electrify, it owes far more of a debt to the dance sound of the early 90s, particularly breakbeat and rave. It’s a fairly non-specific kind of track that doesn’t push the kind of extremes needed to make it anthemic, affecting or particularly memorable. It’s a 21st Century reading of an older sound, but if you’re in the mood for this kind of thing, you wouldn’t listen to Jakwob. No, you’d dig out your Baby D and Livin’ Joy records and have a whale of a time with those instead. 4/10

Black Stone Cherry – In My Blood

Oh, please no. It appears Black Stone Cherry are the kind of over-earnest, country-based rock that does well in America but, thankfully, rarely troubles the UK. Yes, Americans, in our wondrous land of plenty, hardly anyone’s even heard of Creed, and Lady Antebellum can barely get arrested. That said, the dull Southern rock of Black Stone Cherry did apparently reach the UK Top 20 album charts, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so smug. This is still the first I’ve heard of them though and, hopefully, the last too. It’s a bit Nickleback, a bit Kid Rock, a bit Kings of Leon and is the kind of derivative, say-nothing music that can sap the life out of you at a rate of knots. Thanks, but no thanks. 1/10

Deaf Havana – Leeches

Quick check – are we still in 2012? I’m only asking because for Enter Shikari, Black Stone Cherry and now Deaf Havana, it’s like the last decade or so never happened. I never thought I’d be saying a track sounded like Funeral For A Friend twice in one week but here we are again. However, on the positive side, Deaf Havana clearly have a way with a tune that made some of FFAF’s earlier stuff genuinely great listening. I’m sure those cheeky ruffians with silly fringes and flesh tunnels you see hanging around precincts will lap this stuff up and fair play to them – there’s a professional quality to Leeches it’s hard to deny. Also, Deaf Havana are from King’s Lynn and, having been there, anybody who can make something of themselves coming from somewhere like that deserves a pat on the back. 6/10

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Look Around

After the success (you’re right, I do have an odd way of defining success) of Florence + The Machine bingo a few weeks back, I’ve developed a Red Hot Chili Peppers version, so dobbers at the ready, everyone. Reasonably high-pitched, wah-wah style guitar accompaniment? Check. Needlessly complicated funk bassline? Check. Nonsense, semi-rapped vocals? Check. House? No, not quite because, surprisingly, there is not a single mention of the state of California in Look Around. Sorry, better luck next time. As for what it sounds like, well, you’ve heard a Red Hot Chili Peppers song before, right? It sounds like a Red Hot Chili Peppers song. There’s a bit more substance to this one than most though; it somehow burrows into your subconscious and sits there poking the bit of your brain that responds to musical stimuli. Yes, despite being opposed to all the elements of this track, I somehow quite like it. 6/10

Marcus Collins – Seven Nation Army

Somewhere in the world, there’s a person who thought, “You know what? That Joss Stone faux-soul cover of Fell In Love With A Girl worked really well. Her career’s gone from strength to strength, she’s a permanent fixture on end-of-year best-of lists. No-one at all think she’s a complete laughing stock. Let’s repeat this sure-fire trick to critical and commercial success.” Pity that person, because it’s probably not mathematically possible to be more wrong. Former X Factor contestant Collins has wrung all the good things out of the White Stripes’ original, replaced it with an oddly staccato rendition of the signature riff, borrowed Mark Ronson’s horn section and warbled all over it. Even if you didn’t like this song in the first place, you’d be hard pressed to argue this hasn’t made it worse in every conceivable way. Awful, awful stuff – I’d rather listen to a song by Justin Lee Collins than this. 0/10

Estelle – Thank You

Although according to music industry insiders (i.e. Wikipedia), Estelle’s been steadily releasing material for the past few years, she hasn’t really been on the radar since 2008’s fantastic, Kanye West-featuring American Boy. Thank You is a smooth, soulful ballad that’s a world away from the hip-hop MC we’ve seen in the past. However, it seems Estelle is that rarest of things – someone who can both rap and sing with considerable skill. Thank You isn’t the most dynamic or exhilarating of songs, but Estelle manages to place real emotion and depth into the vocals without feeling the need to resort to talent show histrionics. There’s the odd touch of autotune, which sadly dehumanises the track in parts, but overall, Estelle has shown real star quality to transform something merely average into something great. 7/10

Loverush UK! feat. Bryan Adams – Tonight In Babylon

Presumably, Loverush UK! (no, me neither) saw the success Chicane had when they teamed up with the Canadian AOR-peddler and thought they’d get in on the action (over a decade too late). The effect is largely the same: a forgettable Euro-trance song with the familiar blues-inflected vocal stylings of Bryan Adams over the top. They make for incongruous bedfellows and – Chicane precedent aside – it’s difficult to see why these artists have paired up. This might well sound “well amazing” when you’re “pilled up” in an Ibiza club but it’s March, it’s cold and dark outside, and this kind of music tends to bring me out in hives. So, while Adams might be spending, “to-naaaaat in Baaaabylowwwwwwwn”, I’m going to bid you adieu, eat my dinner and hopefully never be subjected to this song again. 1/10

1 comment:

Photo to acrylic said...

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