Monday, January 31, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (31/01/05)

Finally, we've reached the end of January and are set to review its last new releases. We've actually been waiting a LONG time for today. Why? There's some good things that are worth reviewing, that's why. It's also the start of some big things for several groups that have previously survived with their cult followings and we're especially interested to see if they make it into the mainstream.

Special Mentions:
Bloc Party - 'So Here We Are' (video available here)
The band who brought us 'Helicopter' show a dreamy side more reminiscent of Radiohead. It's a song so eerily similar, in fact, that it's verging on being scary. Bloc Party, however, are not Radiohead. This diversity within their own work, exhibited by their last two singles alone, seems to prove them worthy of the hype that's been surrounding them since the end of last year. 'So Here We Are' is something that isn't worth shouting out to the world about, but it's definitely a positive sign of what is yet to come. 3/5

Eminem - 'Like Toy Soldiers' (video available here)
The use of Martika on this track was sheer genius - it's the almost the new 'Stan'. However, the marching band style beats are just a tiny bit overbearing and the track still leaves me wondering whether I truly prefer Marshall's more sarcastic, or even occasionally flippant style, or the more serious songs with a message, or even whether I really like Eminem at all. Somehow I find myself just waiting for the chorus, which, of course, is from a completely different song. 2.5/5

Good Charlotte - 'I Just Wanna Live' (video available here)
It's possibly the best thing they've done, even if Q claims it's cheesy. Well, of course it's cheesy - the lead singer's dressed as a pizza! The video is actually a really funny watch, especially if you enjoy laughing at pop-punkers dressed up in food costumes satirising ever possible aspect of manufactured pop. They even manage to throw in a brilliant Ashlee Simpson reference! As for the song, it sounds different from whatever Good Charlotte usually churn out, with a different vocal style and the loud-and-proud message that they're 'real'. Maybe they're somewhere on the borderline. It's worth a listen, but the fun's all in the video. 3/5

Single of the Week:
Patrick Wolf - 'The Libertine' (video available here)
After a shaky start, and some confusion about release dates, we can happily confirm 'The Libertine' is out, and should be bought by every single one of you. I could happily hype about this single, and the forthcoming album it's taken from, until the end of next month, but instead, I'm going to be fairly short and to the point. Patrick Wolf's unique brand of electro-folk (ably assisted by a laptop) is something fresh, quirky and exciting. This single, 'The Libertine' is accompanied by a video so bizarre, it's almost scary. Does the video really matter? Nope. Patrick has created some beautiful, true music, with an introduction full of suspense, escalating into a sweeping, complex, fully-formed cult classic, with a chorus almost as grandiose as something by Muse, except without the thrashy guitars. There's something new and exciting about this track to be found during every listen and the fact that I've been listening to it repeatedly for over a month and still adore it proves that it's easily going to be one of the best things out this year. Ignore it at your peril. 5/5

Avoid at ALL costs:
Delta Goodrem and Brian McFadden - 'Almost Here'
We're not picking on Bryian...hold on, yes, we are. While the stories of the ex-Westlife singer, ex-Atomic Kitten member Kerry and Delta seem to rule the tabloids and low-brow magazines, he is, surprise surprise, still actually releasing records. And no, they're not actually any good. Whilst being joined by Delta here, who previously we wouldn't have had any problems with, we're now disappointed by her lack of taste. It's not Robbie and Kylie - please leave it on the shelf, or face the consequences... 1/5

Release Listings: (may be subject to change)
22-20’s - Such A Fool, Bloc Party - So Here We Are, Cam’Ron - Girls, Chocolate Monday - Your Place Or Mine, Deeyah - Plan Of My Own, Delta Goodrem and Brian McFadden - Almost Here, Duran Duran - What Happens Tomorrow, El Presidente - Rocket [Ltd Ed 10” only], Elvis Presley - Are You Lonesome Tonight?, Eminem - Like Toy Soldiers, Erick Morillo Ft Terra Deva - What Do You Want?, Funky G Ft Shauna Jenson - Everytime, Ga Gas - Sex, Galaxy Records Star Search Finalists - Guardian Angel, Good Charlotte - I Just Wanna Live, Hammerfall - Blood Bound, Head Automatica - Beating Heart Baby, Heather Small - Proud, Hugh Cornwell - (Under Her) Spell, Kimberley Locke - Coulda Been, Lil John Ft The East Side Boys - Roll Call/What U Gon’ Do, Marvia Providence - Hear My Cry, Oh Lord, Mattafix - 11:30/Dirtiest Trick In Town [7” only], Patrick Wolf - The Libertine, Sunshine - Electric Kill Kill EP, The Wedding Present - I’m Further North Than You, Your Code Name Is:Milo - Rapt Dept

All this week's new releases, including ones I've listened to, and ones I don't like.


What's YOUR single of the week?

Bonza news!

The Love Pavilion is back, and open for business...or at least ready to board the Bonza bus and travel to...hold on a minute - outer space?

The LP's unique brand of muddled humour, music, pointless squabbles, surreal ideas and Neighbours fandom is what attracted us to blogging in the first place. It gives a light-hearted angle from an Aussie comedy goddess and Oasis obsessive, Crystal Gallagher and her rather charming partner in crime, Michael Bush.

Both are dear friends of ours, and if you like your music blogging fast-paced, funny and with an Aussie twang - you definitely can't go wrong by paying a visit.

UK Top 75, Hannah's Single of the Week and the next part of our Tips for the Brits feature are coming very soon!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Tips for the Brits (part one)

As the Brit Awards 25 approach, it's only right that we moan and groan about the nominations, deciding who really deserves the award and grumbling over we think will really get it. Otherwise, what's the point of the awards? Everyone likes a good rant (when the undeserving, untalented idiots win) almost as much as when their favourite band claims the prize. We still think the Brits are going to be great, even if we're not too sure about the choice of presenter.

So here's who's nominated, who I would like to win, who I think will win and who I desperately do not want to win at all!

Will YoungBritish Male Solo Artist
Jamie Cullum
Lemar
Morrissey
The Streets
Will Young

This category was particularly hard, as there is a distinct lack of a certain Mr Robbie Williams, like last year. My vote's with Will Young, who's survived despite being a product of reality TV, although I think The Streets will clinch it out of sheer popularity and critical acclaim.

Natasha BedingfieldBritish Female Solo Artist
Amy Winehouse
Jamelia
Joss Stone
Natasha Bedingfield
PJ Harvey

Here I was torn between two artists I would never buy albums from, but who have produced some good singles, have great voices and have given some great live performances. I think Natasha Bedingfield will win, although Jamelia has a good chance too, especially after the amount of awards she's won already in the past 12 months.

More to come...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Tsunami Relief Cardiff - WL reviews

Everywhere I have been, I've seen a whole different take on this gig. It raised a lot of money, it was the biggest thing I've been to, or think I'm ever going to go to, and I saw a lot of acts live I might not ever see otherwise. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, I'm still deciding, but the event was still enjoyable and for a good cause. I spent the entire show about 15 to 25 metres from the stage, amongst a lot of Welsh teenage fans of Snow Patrol, Feeder and GLC, joined by my parents, who still had a great time, considering they've spent the last year or so absorbing my so-called musical culture.

Arriving a little after two, as the gates opened and we drifted in, we managed to claim a spot towards the front, watching as people filled the entire stadium (which is shockingly huge) and waiting for the show to begin. At 3:10, the lights dimmed and Alex Zane introduced Camera, a fairly unknown support band. They played two tracks to a half-filled stadium and weren't bad, but didn't exactly blow me away. Katherine Jenkins was 'first' to perform, leading the crowd into singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' accompanied by many thousand flashing red lights. Looking around the stadium it was a breathtaking sight.

Keane followed, their imminent presence given away by Richard's tell-tale drum kit. Playing five songs, including 'Bend and Break' along with all the hits, they were a real crowd pleaser, even if Tom's voice didn't sound as sparkling and pure as it did in November. It was great to see them again, and my mum was especially pleased that she finally had the oppurtunity to see them live!
Raghav, a surprise late addition to the line-up didn't get much of a reaction, except for a few die-hard fans that were close to us. Performing only two songs, he finished with an almost total lack of response from the 60,000-strong crowd. Charlotte Church, having previously been booed by the (predominantly Welsh) crowd, set about trying to imitate Eva Cassidy. It didn't really work, but it was preferable to anything more operatic.

Lemar finally emerged onstage, a little later than planned, after his band took what seemed like forever to set up, leaving the comperes desperately trying to entertain the restless audience. His set was short, and disappointing - the sound was poorly mixed and he sounded far better on the final number he did with just acoustic guitar.

Gary Lightbody, lead singer of Snow Patrol, led the band and fronted a great performanceUnlike Lemar, Craig David did his entire set with acoustic guitar. Craig's never been one to exactly inspire me, although I enjoyed 'Walking Away' despite not being able to guarantee it was due to my thankful thought that it was his last song.

Fortunately, Snow Patrol came and saved the day. Gary Lightbody's smile lit up the arena, and the crowd regained their enthusiasm, singing along to 'Run' - something I can describe as one of the most exhilerating moments of the entire concert. Their performance left me with a great sense of satisfaction and after a shaky start, they sounded superb and are conclusive proof television never does a live show justice.

I even liked Goldie Lookin' Chain, even though I'm not a huge fan of their music. They're performers, I'll give them that, and being surrounded by several groups of people who frequently boo the English, definitely gives you cause to at least pretend you're enjoying yourself. And I did, without pretending, even if I still can't enjoy 'Half Man, Half Machine'.

I didn't enjoy Badly Drawn Boy as much as I thought I might, but instead admired the musical abilities of his flautist. Fair enough, I'm not a huge fan, but it would have been nice to have 'Something To Talk About' or 'All Possibilities'. Perhaps I'm a little too fussy? For Aled Jones and Brian McFadden, I left the pitch to go for a walk, although my Mum assures me that Aled was lovely and from what I saw on a television screen, Brian was as dull as could be expected. That, ladies and gentlemen, is dull.

Kelly Jones, playing solo to 61,000I returned just in time to see Embrace launch into 'Ashes', a band who performed a crowd-pleasing set of their big hits, including 'Gravity' and my favourite of theirs - 'Come Back To What You Know' - though asking the audience to just sing 'na na na' if they didn't know the lyrics was a tiny bit patronising.

Kelly Jones, playing his first solo stadium gig, was understandably nervous, but the home crowd seemed to adore him. Accompanied by an electric guitar, he sang 'Local Boy In a Photograph', 'Just Looking' and 'Maybe Tomorrow' - songs which were lapped up by the eager crowd and consequently backed by a chorus of many thousands.


Another of my favourite sets came from Welsh rockers, the Manic Street Preachers. James, James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street PreachersNicky and Sean gave a stunning performance of a great selection of their hits, ranging from the guitartastic 'Motorcycle Emptiness' to new single 'Empty Souls' (which, when put amongst the others, doesn't stand a chance) to fan-favourites 'You Stole The Sun From My Heart' and 'A Design For Life'. I still regret not being able to make the Lifeblood tour, but I'm pleased I've seen one of my favourite bands at last, even if Nicky Wire, despite having his fluffy microphone stand, didn't say a single word.

Heather Small was another surprise crowd pleaser, who provided a small selection of singalongs, enjoyed by practically everybody. Unfortunately, 'Movin' On Up' wasn't included, despite numerous emergency renditions by the comperes.

Feeder were greeted by a startling amount of enthusiasm, opening their set with power-pop classic - 'Buck Rogers', playing 'Just The Way I'm Feeling' from their Comfort in Sound era, and their latest single - 'Tumble and Fall'. My verdict, as promised - it doesn't stand up when played with those other tracks, even when it's live. However, Feeder are forgiven, after teasing the crowd with a one-string rendition of the 'Just a Day' riff, they rounded off their set with that very song, something that is surely the best thing they've ever done.

Liberty X appeared to be very out of place, being the only act to dance on chairs or to, well, dance (obviously excluding Charlotte Church's 'clapping') and gave a lacklustre performance. Lulu performed only two songs, probably as a result of being a late addition to the list and Jools Holland and Eric Clapton...well. Both are extremely talented musicians in their own right, and while the music they produced was great, it wasn't going to get the adrenalin pumping, and instead, I was tired, and glad to be going home.

You can visit the official Millennium Stadium site here, and watch video highlights here, including complete sets from Snow Patrol and Keane.

Full show schedule:
15.15 Camera, 15.30 Katherine Jenkins, 15.50 Keane, 16.20 Raghav, 16.30 Charlotte Church, 16.45 Lemar, 17.10 Craig David, 17.30 Snow Patrol, 18.00 Goldie Looking Chain, 18.20 Badly Drawn Boy, 18.50 Aled Jones, 19.00 Brian McFadden, 19.15 Embrace, 19.40 Kelly Jones, 20.00 Manic St. Preachers, 20.30 Heather Small, 20.50 Feeder, 21.15 Liberty X, 21.30 Lulu, 21.45 Jools Holland, joined by Eric Clapton

Monday, January 24, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (24/01/05)

It's one of those weeks where the shelves of Woolworths, and any other sub-standard high street store that just happens to sell cds, will be stocked to brim with boybands, or boybands-that aren't-because-they-have-guitars. To be honest, most we haven't even credited with a listen, but if you like that sort of thing, please head over to Dirrrty Pop where our dear friend Jessica will inform you of what's good and bad, because we're reluctant to even try. Also, I apologise for the inaccuracies in last week's release schedule - I'm only going on the information I'm provided with, and it is often subject to change without me noticing!

Single of the Week:
Hanson - 'Penny and Me' video here
There is only one thing I've heard, out this week, that I've remotely liked, and this is it. Ashamed as I am to admit it, this is pop, the way it should be done, and it's pretty damn good. The boys we once saw in 1997, singing 'Mmmbop', have now reached the ages of 24, 21 and 19, having released several albums on the quiet, and utilising the internet to keep hold of a strong fanbase. 'Penny and Me' is a real pick-me-up. Something cheery that urges you to sing along. It's guitar-pop that's to be enjoyed, no matter if it's from some boys whose major hit is now the soundtrack to an advert for chewing gum. And, with the demise of Busted, it's good to see something new from their predecessors, especially when it outshines the music of every mimic that followed. They've matured nicely, weaving together simple harmonies, piano and guitar with some sophistication, but without losing the zesty poppiness that reminds you of when you were just that little bit younger. And this, my friends, cannot be a bad thing. 4/5

Avoid at ALL costs:
Ashlee Simpson - 'La La'
It's out this week apparently, but the same applies as of last week, though clearly TOTP are verging on going insane by making it their latest four star single. 1/5

Amsterdam - The Journey, Apartment - Everyone Says I'm Paranoid/June July, Ashanti - Only You, Ashlee Simpson - Lala, Breed 77 - Shadows, Biffy Clyro - Only One Word Comes To Mind, Buff Medways - I’m A Lie Detector [7” only], Butch Cassidy Sound system - Rockers Galore [Ltd Ed], Commander Tom - Attention, D:Rail - How Do I Say Goodbye, David Kitt - Dancing In The Moonlight, Editors - Bullets, Elvis Presley - It’s Now Or Never, Emanuel - Hey Man/New Violence, Freefaller - Do This Do That, HAL - What A Lovely Dance, Hanson - Penny And Me, Ian Broudie - Song For No One, Juliet Turner - Vampire, Lemon Jelly - Shouty Track, Lovefreekz - Shine, Midnight Movies - Mirage, Mos Def - Sex, Love And Money, Mylo - Destroy Rock and Roll, Phixx - Strange Love, Sia - Numb, Sunshine - Electric Kill Kill EP, Wedding Present - I’m Further North Than You, X-Zibit - Hey Now (Mean Muggin’)

So, what's YOUR single of the week?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

UK Top 75 (23/01/05)

Is it STILL January?

Dylan Rhymes ft. K Ellis is at 70 with 'Salty'. There are no other new entries in the lower regions of the chart, but Elvis Presley's 'Jailhouse Rock' has plummeted an enormous 40 places to 50 in this week's chart. Just so you know.

'Alive and Amplified' by the Mooney Suzuki has a slightly disappointing chart placing of 38. I really do advise you go and buy it next week, because it is really good and is probably one of those things you should buy as a single, as opposed to the album. Rachel McFarlane is also new at 36 with 'Lover' as are Roots Manuva at 33 with 'Colossal Insight'.

Mercury Rev are new at 28 with 'In a Funny Way' while Soulwax enter the chart at 27 with 'E Talking'. A dramatic plunge down the charts comes from the Manic Street Preachers, who fall 24 places to 26. The Others just miss the top 20 with 'Lackey', new at 21.

At 20 this week is Elvis Presley, making what is possibly the biggest fall from the top spot in the history of the chart, with his single 'One Night'. Another title to add to its many existing 'achievements' then! Ian Brown is new at 15 with 'Time is my Everything'.

Stonebridge ft. Therese are the first entry in the new top 10, at 9, with 'Take Me Away'. Middle-of-the-road pianist, Lucie Silvas, has another hit on her hands with 'Breathe In', at 6. 'Tumble and Fall' by Feeder, is new at 5, while Athlete's 'Wires' charts just above, at 4.
Fourth in this chain of new entries are the Chemical Brothers with 'Galvanise' at 3. It seems the appeal of Elvis is wearing off, as he misses the top spot, despite things looking promising in the midweek charts, entering at 2 with 'A Fool Such As I'.

Ciara ft. Petey Pablo with 'Goodies' are number 1, this week. Oh dear...the chart year's not looking too good, is it? The full top 75 can be viewed here.


I missed this last week, but I thought I'd take the opportunity to ask everybody who reads WL:
What are your favourite number one singles of all time?
I struggled to come up with more than five I genuinely liked and appreciated as good music...

Friday, January 21, 2005

I don't think we've posted this...

http://www.petitiononline.com/StopAsh/petition.html

Have a visit, if you're not one of the thousands of people who have already, of course.

Talking of thousands of people...
Being one of them at the Millennium Stadium was surprisingly good, even if a good proportion of the music wasn't. Expect a full review later in the week...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (14/01/05)

Special Mentions:
Athlete - 'Wires'
There's something instantly dislikable about this song, and Athlete in general. I don't have a problem with the band - it's just that their music has such potential, then it just seems to fail to go anywhere, and doesn't really develop. And this, coming from a girl who likes Travis, isn't a good thing. It's not amazing, it's just bearable, with a few nice touches, but there's a heck of a lot of boredom involved... 2.5/5

Feeder - 'Tumble and Fall'
Feeder are always going to be the makers of the best power-pop record ever - 'Just for a Day' - and if they miss that out of their setlist this weekend in Cardiff, I will be extremely disappointed, but what has happened since, seems to be a transformation into something closer to Coldplay. This isn't necessarily bad, of course, and at least 'Tumble and Fall' is discernable from the soundalike releases from 'Comfort in Sound'. However, Feeder have started some kind of descent into blandness, even if they are an easy listen. 3/5

Single of the Week
Mooney Suzuki - 'Alive and Amplified'
This time last week, I had heard of the Mooney Suzuki, but I'd never actually heard them, if you follow me. So, while watching mtv2 to try and pick up on some slightly more obscure music than usual, minus the ad breaks, I discovered this song. It's proof that you can win me over with something odd, wacky or just plain outrageous. This tune, especially when accompanied by its video, is all three and is almost the result of what happens when you mix the Kings of Leon and Scissor Sisters. Mind you, I'm in agreement with Alan of UK SOTW - it's not something that's a memorable classic, but it's incredibly good fun! 4/5

Avoid at ALL costs:
Ashlee Simpson - 'LaLa'
Now, we've never been fans of Ashlee here at WL, as you probably know, but I was determined to judge 'LaLa' on its musical benefits rather than the voice (bad choice of word there, I think) behind the, erm, song. Being completely fair, I can conclude that it is musically an insult to guitar-pop and should be avoided, unless you want a headache. Lyrically, it is the most childish thing I've heard in a long, long time. 1/5

The Others - 'Lackey'
So, like almost every other typical B-List band, it was inevitable that Dominic Masters would end up trying to be funny on Never Mind The Buzzcocks...with not much luck. Without his overwhelming presence on this record, it could be similar to, and almost as good as Franz Ferdinand. However, his vocals manage to wreck it completely and I've been left thinking that The Others are all hype and no quality. Maybe they should take advantage of the talents of a certain Mr Kapranos? 1/5

Complete Release Listings:
Andrew Bird - Sovay, Ashlee Simpson - LaLa, Athlete - Wires, Beck - Gospel, Ben Watt - Pop A Cap In Yo Ass, Bjork - Triumph Of The Heart, Chemical Brothers - Galvanise, Ciara - Goodies, Dead Fly Buchowski - Blackout, El Presidente - Rocket [Ltd Ed 10” only], Elvis Presley - A Fool Such As I, Feeder - Tumble And Fall, Gruff Rhys - Gwn Mi Wn/Ni Yw Y Byd [7” only], Har Mar Superstar - Body Request, Ian Brown - Time Is My Everything, Immediate - Never Seen/Say This [7” only], Live Ambient Workshop - Nighthawkes EP [7” only], Lovefreekz - Shine, Lucie Silvas - Breathe In, Mates of State - All Day EP, Mercury Rev - In A Funny Way, Mooney Suzuki - Alive And Amplified, The Others - Lackey, Roots Manuva - Colossal Insight, Sights - Circus/Everything, Soulwax - E Talking, Stewart Francke - Safely Home, Stonebridge Ft Therese - Take Me Away, The Used - Take It Away

(All releases, complete with songs listened to by myself and songs I don't like much)


What's your single of the week?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

UK Top 75 (16/01/05)

So, here it is - the 1000th number one, along with its accompanying chart. Of course, you'll all know who it is, but just in case you don't, or you're one of our readers from overseas, we won't spoil the surprise...

There's little activity in the lower regions of the chart with new entries from Minnie Driver, at 68 with 'Invisible Girl' and Elvis Presley with 'That's Alright' at 54. Elvis appears a total of 3 times on this week's chart. Bugz in the Attic are also new at 44 with 'Booty La La'.

The first new entry in the top 40 comes from Pink Grease with 'Strip' at 36, closely followed by Jamie Scott at 33 with 'Searching'. Maybe it isn't going to be his year after all? Longview are at 32 with their double A side single 'Coming Down'/'When You Sleep' and Narcotic Thrust struggle to match the sales of 'I Like It', entering at 28 with 'When The Dawn Breaks'.

Roni Size and Beverly Knight are new at 26 with 'No More', while the Kings of Leon chart just a little higher at 24, with their 2-minute (or so I'm told) wonder 'Four Kicks'. Client (with some slightly dodgy backing vocals from Carl Barat) and their new single 'Pornography' are at 22.

The Music are 'Breakin'' into the top 20 (yes, we know, bad pun) at 20, while Thirteen Senses have their new single 'Thru The Glass' only place at 18 - a little lower than they might have liked if they're really planning to be the 'next Keane'. Mind you, it's an improvement from the 30-something placings of their last two tracks. Pop! struggle on with their best tune so far (complete with cash-infused video), 'Serious', entering the chart at 16.

Darius has a shock top 10 entry (well, for WL, anyway!) with 'Live Twice' at 7, while Soul Central feat. Kathy Brown are at 6 with 'Strings of Life (Stronger on my Own)'. Rooster make an unwelcome return to the charts at 5 with a song called 'Staring at the Sun'. We haven't heard it, and no, we don't want to, either.

So, on to the top 3. We're very pleased that the Killers have entered the chart at 3 with their 'killer' (oh yes, I'm full of them today...) tune, 'Somebody Told Me', a whole 25 places higher than the song's original peak position. The Manic Street Preachers celebrate their second top 3 hit on the trot with 'Empty Souls' which charts at 2, this week. Predictably, once again, Elvis is number one and the holder of the title of '1000th Number One'. We predict that in three months time the UK will be sick of the sight of him, and every one of his number ones. No offence to The King, and all that, but is this really necessary?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Musically hilarious!

Crystal, a friend of both myself and The Pop girls, seems to have quit blogging, but has gone back to 'full-time lizzing'. Please go here for her unique brand of aussie musical humour (featuring the odd character from Neighbours)!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Suggestions?

We really would like to bring We Love 1997 back to life, but we need help. We're all busy busy students, who don't have much time on their hands, and can only really handle one blog.

So, if you do have an obscure track, an album review, or pretty much anything relating to the year 1997, add a comment in, or send us an email, because we're looking for guest writers with a variety of obscure tracks, as well as the mainstream rubbish we tend to churn out.

It could be a really great group blog, and it does have potential, but we just need enough people to regularly take part.

By the way:
Jamie is back!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Good news, bad news, and crazy news...

Some exceeding good news

Some slightly bad news

And something a little bizarre

Monday, January 10, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (10/01/05)

The river has burst its banks, and a flood of new releases have invaded the shelves of our favourite music stores. There's actually a LOT out this week, possibly in excess of 30 songs, so I'm really sorry if I haven't mentioned an awful lot of them here. There's also nothing that blows me away, so, if you'll excuse me, most things are on 'special mention' status and there isn't an official single of the week. I've also implemented a new ratings system, so if you've noticed a slight change in the way I'm rating things, that's why. There's more on that, later. I also apologise for the extremely poor quality of writing - I'm been having trouble sleeping and I seem to only have a hundred-word vocabulary. Lovely.

Special Mentions:
The Killers - 'Somebody Told Me'
Somebody told ME that this was a re-release. And it is. Awkwardly enough it's another one of those re-releases I can actually remember, so is it really necessary? Mind you, I'm not a fan of the Killers and yet I can really enjoy this song. I didn't like 'Mr Brightside', like some sort of freak, and neither did I enjoy the followup. On the other hand, this is catchy, not remotely monotonous and I'll gladly welcome its return to the chart. Nice. 3.5/5

Thirteen Senses - 'Thru The Glass'
January could often be seen as a month of where these sort of artists shine. Sales are low, nothing particularly interesting is out and these sort of songs rocket to the top of the charts, and get the sort of radioplay that Coldplay do. There's a lot of 'Coldplay-clones' out there at the minute, although we're going to have to wait a month or two until we see anything of the real thing. 'Thru The Glass' isn't as likeable last year's similar breakthrough hit - 'Run' by Snow Patrol - but while it's nothing spectacular, it plods along, has a nice little chorus and...that's it really. It's likeable, but to be honest, we're waiting for Chris Martin and co. 3/5

The Music - 'Breakin''
Every day I change how I feel about this song. I can't help feeling I've heard part of it before, a long time ago. I can't help getting bored halfway through. I can't help getting irritated by it. Then suddenly, it's catchy, brilliant, close to perfect. Enjoyable, even. Like Thirteen Senses, it's got a good chorus, and the video isn't half-bad either. The little interlude in the middle, however, seems out of place and uninspiring. However, when the vocals are brought back in, it adds a bit of much-needed variety. I'm really not sure about this song, but it's easily worth a listen. 3.5/5

Single of the Week:

'Empty Souls' IS out this week. Last week, I wrote an early review, so if you'd like to check that out, you're quite welcome. I am still loving this song.

Avoid at ALL costs:
Jamie Scott - 'Searching'
I admit, the entire WL team is slightly prejediced against Mr Scott because of the fact he has pinched our staff member's name, thus forcing said staff member to resort to adding the suffix of Alexander. I'm sure (the fake) Jamie Scott is a perfectly lovely person, even if he is a good-for-nothing-name-thief, but aside from the whole name issue, there's an issue with his music. There's something of the Bedingfield in him I can't stand. 1.5/5

Oh, and Jamie says: 'Someone should shoot Fearne Cotton for announcing that 2005 will be the year of that name thief!' Well, quite.

Elvis Presley - 'One Night'
You know, it's not that I don't like Elvis. It's not that he hasn't made some seriously good tunes. It's that I don't like his record company making so much money out of the dead, by releasing one of his hits every week for the next few months. The novelty is going to wear off eventually. To be honest, just buy his greatest hits collection. I won't rate this track - it's not fair, just like these latest releases.

Complete Release Listings:
Asia - Long Way From Home, Bugz In The Attic - Booty La La, Candidate - Mountain Snow, Client Ft Carl Barat - Pornography, Coheed and Cambria - A Favor House Atlantic, Darius - Live Twice, Divine Inspiration - Someday, Elvis Presley - One Night, Jamie Scott - Searching, The Killers - Somebody Told Me, Kings of Convenience - Know How, Kings of Leon - 4 Kicks, Lazyboy - Police Dogs’ Bonfire, Little Barrie - Free Salute, The Little Flames - Little Rose, Longview - Coming Down /When You Sleep, Minnie Driver - Invisible Girl, Money Mark - Burn Away [7” only], The Music - Breakin’, Narcotic Thrust - When The Dawn Breaks, New Young Pony Club - Ice Cream Tight Fit [7” only], Pink Grease - Strip, Pop! - Serious, Puscha - Show Me What Love Is, Rachel McFarlane - Lover, Roni Size and Beverley Knight - No More, Rooster - Staring At The Sun, Sage Francis - Sea Lion, Soul Central Ft Kathy Brown - Strings Of Life (Stronger On My Own) , Thirteen Senses - Thru The Glass

(Songs in bold are the ones I've actually heard this week.)

The Brits...

So, the nominations for the most biased*, mainstream and well, British awards in the music industry have been released into the public eye.

Thankfully, there's no Darkness or Busted to sweep the boards. Instead we have Jamie Cullum and a questionable set of 'Best British Singles'.

Except our 'tips for the top' within the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, rest safe in the knowledge that somebody is being dragged to the relief gig at the Millennium stadium...

Sunday, January 09, 2005

UK Top 75 (09/01/05)

The second chart of the year is one of those that is particularly bizarre. Sales are lower than most parts of the year, new entries are few and far between, and bands who have their fourth or fifth singles out chart significantly higher than is the norm. The album charts are also worth a watch, especially after last week's shake-up which saw American punk rockers Green Day soaring from 13 up to the top spot. This week, and deservedly, after all the press, Scissor Sisters top the charts once again.

Ciara ft Petey Pablo have the first real new entry (discounting re-entries) in the top 75 at 68. We're hazarding a guess that this is actually on import sales alone, as Ciara's single 'Goodies' is currently getting a lot of radioplay and has been tipped to be a huge hit. Le Tigre are at 50 with 'TKO'.

The first new entry in the top 40 is at 31, from the unusually named Urban Cookie Collective with 'The Key The Secret 2005' which is, if you haven't guessed, a typical club anthem that's nothing to write home about. Interpol land just inside the top 20, at 18, with 'Evil'. It's a good enough track, but I've never been a fan, and it's nothing to inspire me to buy their album.

New at 17 are Seagulls Ska with 'Tom Hark (We Want Falmer)'. You really don't hear a lot of this sort of stuff in the charts nowadays. I've got no clue where it's come from, as I didn't see it in the shops, either!

Kasabian have made it to the top 10 with 'Cutt Off' and chart at number 8, which is the highest they've ever been. In chart terms, obviously. I can't possibly comment on the band's excessive drug use. Dana Rayne is new at 7 with 'Object of My Desire', another piece of average dance with an animated video. There's always one at this time of year, isn't there?

Scissor Sisters hit the charts with this dirty little number at 5, this week. 'Filthy/Gorgeous', again, is one of their highest, if not, their highest chart placing to date. Erasure are new at 4 with 'Breathe' and Iron Maiden are new at 3 with 'The Number of the Beast'. Place your bets now on what chart position this will be, next week. Honestly, I'm interested.

Fortunately, number one is not Steve Brookstein. Unfortunately, it's Elvis Presley. Now, don't get me wrong, it's nice to see Elvis back at the top of the charts, but the sad fact is that this is the first of 18 number ones, re-released to see if they can match their original peak chart position. It's the record company's way of 'celebrating'. Extracting as much money from a dead man's legacy, more like. 'Jailhouse Rock' is a classic. It'll just be interesting to see how quickly the novelty of a 'new' Elvis single each week wears off.

Top 75 in full, and a slightly less opinionated, but infinitely more interesting commentary...

Friday, January 07, 2005

Somebody told me...

Somebody told me something late last night, with regards to me packing it all in and going elsewhere.

What is this blog? A blog that reviews the latest releases heading for the UK charts and what they do when they get there. It certainly isn't a full-blown coverage of a load of signed and unsigned bands you aren't going to necessarily going to see in the charts. If a band has a new single out, sure, we'll review it, if somebody will send us the video or a page with an audio sample. We can't review something we haven't even heard.

There are a TON of blogs and websites that cover bands that don't necessarily get the recognition they deserve, and that's where people who like them should go, and stay. People seem to like what we're doing. So what if I do have the tastes I do? I'm going to stick up for myself for once. I'll stay. To please my readers. To show I'm not a little coward. And possibly because there's too much interesting stuff out on Monday.

I just always wonder - do fans of the unrecognised bands stop liking them as soon as they become a regular feature in NME?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

They got it wrong...

So it's true then! After charting just below the top spot at number two, the Scissor Sisters' self-titled debut outsold Keane's 'Hopes and Fears' by a few hundred copies, taking the boys from Battle over in sales figures just before beginning of 2005. They sold 1,594,259 of their album, passing Keane on New Year's Eve to have the biggest selling album of 2004. And I'd been listening before they were famous. Nice one.

Just so we're not supplying wrong information...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Ashlee-bashing

Because, ladies and gentlemen, we can...

Ashlee Simpson at the Orange Bowl

Maybe she should just stick to lip-synching...

(The link's stopped working - if you're really desperate to see this, we can figure something out. Comment if you are.)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (03/01/05)

Special Mentions:
Kasabian - 'Cutt Off'
Kings of originality, aren't they, Kasabian? Not only have they been strikingly innovative with their cover (an attractive shade of banana-yellow this time) they've tried something completely new on the song-front, as well. Heh. 'Cutt Off' is essentially everything Kasabian has done before, in a different order. This doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad song - it's catchy, and you don't really require any lyrics to sing the chorus, but if you don't like the band already, you aren't going to be convinced by this track alone. Mind you, the video is worth checking out, despite the fact that it only 'works' upon first viewing. These novelty plots never can really acheive the 'Just' effect. 3/5


Scissor Sisters - 'Filthy/Gorgeous'
They've had the career-making cover version, the gay anthem, the touching ballad and a single so great I managed to favour it over every indie track going. So, what was next for the Scissor Sisters? That's right, something all-out crazy, camp and controversial - 'Filthy/Gorgeous'. You're extremely unlikely to see the video televised, and you're definitely going to hear parts of the song 'fluffed' out on radio. So, what's it like as a song? Great in a club, but not so much in my headphones. Must be the talky-bits... 3/5

Single of the Week:
Manic Street Preachers - 'Empty Souls'
I'm a bit confused. This is the second time, to my knowledge, they've changed the release date for this single. It was going to be out next week, or so I believed, but while HMV's website, and most release lists proclaim 03/01/05 IS the week of release, I didn't actually see it in the shops. However, I did buy Lifeblood, which is much better than the folks at Q Magazine say it is. Anyway, here is my old review of 'Empty Souls' which will no doubt be scrapped, and dredged up, once again, next Monday...

Oh, the wonderful hypocrisy-in-print that is Q Magazine. After putting down 'Lifeblood', leaving it with a two-star rating and plenty of derogatory comments about the titles being the most exciting thing about the album, they claim 'Empty Souls' is one of the best 'loud' songs of the year. Rightio then. Did I ever care? Not really.

I'm a bit of a latecomer to the Manic Street Preachers, purchasing 'Forever Delayed' early this year, before becoming fatally addicted. 'The Love of Richard Nixon' did eventually grow on me, but 'Empty Souls' captured my heart straight off, leading to a Manic Street Preachers musical revival. 'Empty Souls' seems to have taken the Embrace approach of a catchy piano line combined with a chorus that sticks in your head for the best part of a week - 'marathon' and 'comparison' = classic. The video's not exactly inspiring, but just because some fiery-tempered young men have matured, it doesn't mean they stop making great music. Then again, since everyone hates it, I must be easily pleased. 4/5

Avoid at ALL costs:
Blue ft. Lil Kim - 'Get Down On It'
What could be worse than a song that not only reminds you of sofa adverts, but is by one of those bands that is universally disliked by the entire WL team? And let me assure you, that doesn't happen very often! Even the cover is so ridiculous it makes me giggle in disbelief. Of course, this isn't the cover shown here, which makes Blue seem like some sophisticated dance outfit. All lies, I tell you! It's better than anything else they've done in a while, mind you, but maybe that's because it's not theirs... 1.5/5

Sunday, January 02, 2005

UK Top 75 (02/01/05)

So, here we go - the first chart of the year 2005. As there are extremely few new releases this week, and those that do exist aren't anything amazing, this week's chart is one full of new entries and climbers, providing us with just as much to write about as any other Sunday. They can't give a girl a rest, can they?

The Scissor Sisters are the first welcome re-entry to the chart with one of their older singles, 'Comfortably Numb', at 74 while Naughty by Nature are new (?) at 71 with 'O.P.P'. Re-entries also come from McFly with 'That Girl' at 69, and Ultrabeat with their 2003, yes, 2003, hit single 'Pretty Green Eyes' at 68. J-Kwon is back with 'Tipsy' at 67 and DJ Zinc ft Eksman has entered the chart at 66.

I Dream, Jay Z, Source ft Candi Staton, Fabolous, Danzel and Delerium ft Sarah McLachlan, Dizzee Rascal, Stonebridge, House of Pain and Khia are all climbers in the lower region of this week's chart.

Dillinja is new at 54 with 'Thugged Out Bitch'/'Rainforest'. Two very, erm, contrasting titles, I'm sure you'll agree.

The only new entries in the entire top 40 come from Secret Machines at 38 with 'Sad and Lonely' and Jet at 37 with their slightly mediocre new single 'Get Me Outta Here'.

Britney Spears has a re-entry into the top 40 at 35 with 'My Prerogative'. There's further movement in the mid-chart as well, with Jojo, 100 Percent, Blue, Michael Gray, Geri and Jamelia all climbing. 3rd Wish, Usher, Eric Prydz, Christina Aguilera, Snoop Dogg and Gwen Stefani have also improved their chart position.

Nelly and Christina return to the top 10 with 'Tilt Ya Head Back' at 9, as do United Nations with 'Out of Touch' at 7. Green Day, Ice Cube and Kylie all rise one place each, further shaking up the upper regions of the chart.

At the top of the chart is where the week's biggest surprise lies. Steve Brookstein has managed higher singles sales than Band Aid 20, climbing to number one (a rare feat) and leaving them at number two. Luckily enough, this IS a week of extremely low sales, whereas last week was enough to propel Steve into the top 100 bestselling singles, so I suppose we should be thankful that this number one doesn't mean an awful lot. And we are. Sadly we can't feel the same about last week's sales...
This week's Top 75

2004 Bestselling Albums:
Keane top this official chart, followed by the Scissor Sisters and Robbie Williams. A rather satisfying top 3, really. Other highly recommended entries come from Snow Patrol's slow-burner 'Final Straw' (9), Franz Ferdinand (17) and Damien Rice (23). A pleasant surprise came from Coldplay, whose 2002 album, 'Rush of Blood to the Head' has settled at 82, shifting more copies from the shelves than the Corrs (86) and Faithless (98). It's an interesting look at what has been going on, especially with varying weekly cd sales.

2004 Bestselling Singles:
This little list is conclusive proof that 80% of the singles market are tweenagers with 'questionable' taste. A fair chunk the top 20 are one hit wonders, and the only decent singles in sight come from Britney, Natasha Bedingfield and The Streets. It also provides a fair bit of evidence that the singles market is dying, partly because of the amount of trash released into it, and that those with taste are opting for the albums. Keane, who top the album chart, have only one entry, at 80, while the Scissor Sisters are nowhere in sight. Mind you, it's intriguing to know who actually sold enough records to get into the top 20, however much of a painful reminder it is when you find out.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Exercises in Modern Pop

No, it's not a step-by-step guide to creating a musical masterpiece. It's the debut EP from Box Five. This little classipop group from Philadelphia, USA are one of my favourite bands, and finally, here is something that's not a low quality live clip or a bedroom demo, but a proper studio recording. It's completely independent, and it's free. Yes, FREE. More about that later...

Exercises in Modern Pop

For those readers who are not familiar with Box Five, they are a three-piece band who I have been supporting since the beginning of 2004. Last year was a year that saw many new experiences for the band, including many performances, the recording session that led to EiMP and the departure of guitarist Joe Bichner. Our previous article '10 Reasons Why We Love Box Five' can be found here, whilst a recent interview with them can be found here.

Allow me to begin. Exercises in Modern Pop is something different from what you might usually find me listening to. As rules go, I shouldn't like it. There are no epic choruses, sweeping strings, mainstream indie-ness nor anything you would expect from a record I thoroughly enjoy. Instead, it is blessed with the genius of Mary Bichner. This truly gifted lady not only has red hair (!) but has songwriting talent, an electric personality, and the ability to not only identify a note or chord by ear alone, associate them with colours. I envy this young woman, and yet I also can relate to her in many ways, through lyrics and musical taste - the envy becomes more of an admiration.


Some of my favourite songs (available in demo format from boxfive.org) do not appear on this EP, which did disappoint me. 'The Wrong Impression', 'Media Darling' and 'Killjoy', songs which have such potential, were all absent from the record. However - disappointment over. Everything about EiMP appears to be crafted, with such care, from the promotional mini-site, to the accompanying artwork, to, of course, the songs. The album is also produced by Grammy Award-winning producer, David Ivory.

'Write It Out', is the definitive introduction to the voice of Mary Bichner, a 44 second solo that still, on fourth or fifth listen, manages to send a shiver down my spine. 'Nice Boy/Blow My Cover' is a contrast to this slightly haunting beginning and is likeable bouncy pop, with an impressive piano segment and jangling guitars. It's one of those 'story-songs' that Box Five appear to do so well, and appears to show a sense of 'girl-power' which is always nice!

'(No Title)' is where subtle Radiohead influences begin to appear in the work of Box Five. Complete with soaring vocals, piano and disjointed lyrics, it's possibly my favourite song on the EP. 'Microscopic', again, appears to have similar influences, being conducted in an odd 5-beat time signature, and while this makes it a slightly harder listen than its four-beat counterparts, it gives it a sense of originality, that makes it more suited to the Radiohead-side of things. However, as a pop-song, it's one of the strangest things I have ever heard.

'Allright' is pure FUN, where electric guitar (for once!) takes the lead and the whole band really appear to be enjoying themselves. Lyrically bizarre, it's a zesty, feelgood track, and it never fails to leave me smiling. 'Snow Hymn' is the opposite, and is a melancholy duet between piano and vocal, with beautiful harmonies and an ending that left me spellbound.


All this, in under 15 minutes. Yes, Exercises in Modern Pop is extremely short, and while in some cases this is a disadvantage and may leave Box Five not quite suitable for the mainstream audience they seek, each song leaves you hungry for more. Who cares whether Box Five are different? We certainly don't. Allow me to press the 'repeat' button...

4.5/5

Now, whether you're convinced or not that Box Five is worth a listen - hear this:

You don't have to pay a penny.

It is completely and absolutely free. Box Five have personally requested that you share this music, burn copies for your friends, add songs to your shared folder on filesharing networks and advertise it on your websites. Why? Box Five (along with myself and many others) want to see just how far this little record can go by word of mouth alone.
What a way to begin 2005...