16 August 2009

"Sunday Sunday"

Yet another feature type thing. I should stop introducing these things to the blog as I'll lose track even more, but may as well give it a shot. As you may have guessed from the title, this is going to happen every Sunday (hopefully) and will include anything from the past week that I haven't mentioned or reviewed etc. Which right now, is a lot of stuff.

THE BIG PINK - DOMINOS"These girls fall like dominos! Dominos!"
Any gloomy noise-pop song that can get a Disneyfied 11 year old singing along to it after the first chorus is going to be huge. The Big Pink have built on their first couple of singles ("Velvet" and "Stop The World") which were brilliant but kind of inaccessible to the masses, to produce what is likely to be the "Indie Hit Of Summer 2009"™. It'll be on trailers for Skins, featured on Hollyoaks and you can bet your skinny jeans that the BBC will use it on an advert for Reading & Leeds. Not that this is a bad thing, because "Dominos" is as catchy as swine flu, but less lethal and with more synths. And what's more, it's available for download on TBP's website, for free! Very kind of them.

JAMIE T - CHAKA DEMUS"Tonight Jay, I'm gonna teach 'em a ballad/An English man in every coward"
Personally, I cannot wait for Jamie T's second album. All signs point towards another modern classic that escapes pigeon-holing, thanks to "Fire Fire" and "Stick N' Stones". Latest single "Chaka Demus" makes it a hat-trick of great pre-album releases with a Funky Drummer-esque beat, Radio 1 friendly hooks and lyrics spat out at a machine gun rate. Like "Dominos", it's going to soundtrack a fair few summers and be used on pretty much any advert aimed at the "yoof of 2day", but also like "Dominos", this isn't a bad thing at all.

"Your virility, makes me forget empathy"
"I could be someone else if you'd rather/Try to win you over like a new step father"

A double whammy of tunes from the Jarmans-and-Marr (Marr-man?) collaboration. Okay, neither song is a major change of sound and image (a la The Horrors, Franz, Penate) with both sounding like The Cribs with some melodic lead guitar on top. This is only testament to how effortless Marr's contribution ot the band is. There's no whimsical Mancunian melancholia to be seen (as some may have expected from Marr's last big band The Smiths...not sure you'll have heard of them) just powerhouse riffs and probably the closest thing to the proper punk sound that you'll find around today. Plus it's probably the only song to include the word "masturbation" that isn't sung by 35 year old American pop-punk bands who really should give it up.

DAN BLACK - UN"Gimme, gimme, symphonies/Gimme more than the life I see"
Whereas 2009 has been overrun by female pop acts, the guys have been left in their dust, on the fringe of mainstream success but no quite breaching the gap from the underground. Dan Black is one such guy. Gaining a bit of attention for being refused to sample Biggie Smalls lyrics on "Hypntz" last year, he's emerged with his debut album. Needless to say, he hasn't reached the heights of La Roux or Little Boots yet, and is unlikely to with anything here. "Symphonies" (the rewritten version of "Hypntz") is the opening track and the best on the album, so subsequently it's all downhill from there. There are few other high points on "Un", with only "Alone", "Cigarette Pack" and the initially aggravating "Yours" reaching above the level of mundane. Pardon the pun, but highly "Un"inspiring.
GO DOWNLOAD: "Symphonies", "Alone", "Yours", "Cigarette Pack"

"Baby, there’s a shark in the water/I caught them barking at the moon"
One name that slipped under the pop radar at the beginning of the year was V.V. Brown. Barely a mention on any journalist's pick lists and no Top Ten singles to hype up her album, but who needs them when you've previously written for the Sugababes and Pussycat Dolls? TLTL is a solid album, indebted to 50s rockabilly and deserves much more attention than it's got. Anyone who can use the melody from "Monster Mash" and turn it into one of they year's best pop songs ("Crying Blood") whilst making you forget the original deserves a medal, and V.V. Brown is that person. A handful of tracks grate or stick to firmly to one sound but in a year of good debuts, TLTL is up there with the best.
GO DOWNLOAD: "Crying Blood", "Shark In The Water", "Leave!", "Game Over"

1 August 2009

>>>Everybody's doing them...>>>

Since the real Mercury nominees were announced, pretty much every music site has been giving their verdicts on the choices and thusly compiling their own lists. May as well join in with the fun. Sticking with the planetary theme of the Mercury, I think I'll call it the "Pluto Award" for now, unless I think of a better, cooler name...

FRANZ FERDINAND - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand [>>>REVIEW] [>>>EXAMPLE]
GRAMMATICS - Grammatics [>>>REVIEW] [>>>EXAMPLE]
IT HUGS BACK - Inside Your Guitar [>>>REVIEW] [>>>EXAMPLE]
JACK PENATE - Everything Is New [>>>REVIEW] [>>>EXAMPLE]
LATE OF THE PIER - Fantasy Black Channel [>>>EXAMPLE]
LOS CAMPESINOS! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed [>>>REVIEW] [>>>EXAMPLE]
MANIC STREET PREACHERS - Journal For Plague Lovers [>>>REVIEW] [>>>EXAMPLE]
SKY LARKIN - The Golden Spike [>>>EXAMPLE]
VV BROWN - Travelling Like The Light [>>>EXAMPLE]

The poll is right there in the side bar, vote for however many you want. Have a listen to the examples first before voting, always helps. Also, apologies for the 18 days without posting, it's been a little hectic in 'personal life' world.
>>>Jack Peñate>>>Everything Is New>>>
When you think of soul music, you think of the sharp suits, o-zone destroying hairstyles, dance routines, ever-perky singers, joyful bands and superb songwriting. You do not think of a Londoner with superskinny jeans, big phat Nikes and a worrying likeness to a young George Michael. But Jack Peñate has transformed himself from continually-chirpy LDN scene troubador to the most soulful singer-songwriter of the last decade or so, even if his brand of soul is a mish-mash of most hip genres of the minute. Whilst his debut 'Matinee' was high on enthusiasm but lacked consistenly good tunes, Peñate's second effort 'Everything Is New' adheres to it's title.

New sound, new look, new songs (obviously) and it would appear a new found sense of purpose. Over the 9 tracks (and noone should moan about there only being nine, Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago had the same and everyone practically orgasmed over that) Peñate's produced basically what can be seen as this year's version of Vampire Weekend's album; a perfect summer album, that has both depth and substance.

Drafting in Paul Epworth to produce has to be one of the smartest moves Penate has made. The production is tight, not muddy and slightly lo-fi (to my ears) but not dull thanks to a clean, pop sheen. All the songs benefit, and are given room to breathe. The mixture of styles on "Pull My Heart Away", "Body Down" and the title track make it hard to imagine Peñate ever playing the straightforward guitar pop of his debut ever again. But with a set made up purely from this album, it'd be pretty hard to care
ESSENTIAL TRACKS: "Pull My Heart Away", "Be The One", "Everything Is New", "Tonight's Today", "So Near", "Let's All Die", "Body Down"
FOR FANS OF: Jamie T, Florence And The Machine, Vampire Weekend