4 November 2009

NEU! featuring Rihanna, Ash, Yeasayer and Them Crooked Vultures

The world's second biggest popstar (after Beyonce) makes her post-Chris Brown-gate (can't think of a better name right now) comeback with Russian Roulette, the lead single from her fourth album Rated R. The girl obviously loves alliteration, but instead of reasserting herself in the public conciousness with a huge crossover hit à la "Umbrella", "Don't Stop The Music", "Disturbia", "SOS", "Shut Up And Drive" etc. "Russian Roulette" is a downbeat, brooding ballad. On first listen, it may seem a little anonymous and meandering, but endeavour and you'll find that a great modern pop song doesn't have to be huge beats and incessant whirring aimed squarley at girls at 18th birthday party, drunk on WKD. Slow and sultry, it worms its way into your memory with a fantastic soaring chorus, which sounds oddly familiar. The only problem now is airplay. The powers-that-be weren't exactly to pleased about the Russian roulette reference in Lady GaGa's "Poker Face", so an entire song on the game itself, coupled with a gunshot at the end? Good luck with that one Rihanna.
[Available to hear on Rihanna's website]

As you may have guessed from the artwork, this is Ash's second single from their A-Z series (For those not in the know, Ash gave up making albums to concentrate on sing
les and are releasing 26; one every two weeks). After the synth-poppy True Love 1980, the Downpatrick trio have gone back to what they do best; powerful pop-rock. "JKD" has a rawer edge than most early Ash singles but, unlike "Girl From Mars" et al, isn't an immediate pop song. Which probably isn't the best thing for a singles-only band to be releasing. But the blistering rock-out coda more than makes up for it, along with a rather awesome guitar solo. Two down and 24 to go, there's a lot to look forward over the next year.

The indie press darlings sure are a savvy lot. Releasing this single as a free download towards the end of the year, just before all the "Best Of 2009" lists are compiled, is a surefire way to win over those easily-won-over music hacks and boost them to the upper echolons of said charts. I shouldn't be so cynical, because if this was released on 1st January 2010, it would still make the Top 20 of 2010, at the very least. "Ambling Amp" is a genius slice of skewed pop, a bouncy "proper pop song" (basically stuff sung on X Factor and popular with those awful people known as the general public) hidden behind avant-garde sound effects and bubbling synths, making it sound like it's been concocted in a laboratory, which it probably has been. Perfection like this is beyond mere mortals. Okay, that was overly-hyperbolic, but this an amazingly good song, that even the milkman could whistle...probably. And it's a free download. Life is good sometimes.
[Available as a free download here]
Considering the components that make up TCV, this should be great, appealing to metalheads, indie kids and ageing rockers alike. Or it could follow the supergroup rule...basically that 99.9% of supergroups are a bit shit. Or, for an analogy relating to the members, it could be pretty damn good (Josh Homme/Queens Of The Stone Age), alright but a bit bland (Dave Grohl/Foo Fighters) or boring enough to enduce jaw-breaking yawns worldwide (John Paul Jones/Led Zep). The answer is that "Mind Chaser, No Eraser" is a bit more Foo Fighters than QOTSA. It says something when the best bit of a song is the comedic (I'm guessing) brass band tacked on the end. With the only two tracks available sounding like the latter-day bollock-less Foos, things aren't looking good for TCV's album. At least this was free and I didn't have to part with the hard earned money...that I'm sent every month.
[Available for free on iTunes]

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