Thursday, April 21, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (18/04/05)

Single of the Week:
Manic Street Preachers - 'God Save The Manics EP'
We love Nicky Wire...Well, it's not a single, so to speak, but it deserves its pride of place on WL. The God Save The Manics EP is a free download of three brand new tracks. The CD has been distributed to a few thousand lucky fans either attending the band's last gig in two years, at the Hammersmith Apollo or applying hurriedly through the post. I was one of the latter and my lovely shiny copy arrived today. The three songs on offer are a little different to the majority of those on 2004's 'Lifeblood', so anybody who was a little disappointed with last year's effort shouldn't worry. There's something for everyone.

'Secret Society' is the opening track and is decidedly more raw and rough than the over-glossy Lifeblood. There are suspiciously Nicky Wire-like backing vocals and a mention of the Libertines. Oh, so that's why the NME like it!

The strongest track on the EP is 'Firefight'. The lyrics have been penned by lead singer James Dean Bradfield, and musically it's almost a flashback to the album 'Everything Must Go'. There's a lot of piano in this sway along stadium rock track and they fit it perfectly. The musical interlude isn't paticularly inspiring, but it doesn't spoil the song.

'Picturesque' is a gorgeous track, infused with synths and a haunting melody, along with a long-forgotten lyric from missing bandmate Richey James. There's also a JDB guitar solo for those of you who like that sort of thing.

It's by no means the best thing they've done, but for fans it's a must, and with it being available free here, you can't really lose.

All Releases:
April 183am Ft Tracey Cole - Somebody Told Me, Black Strobe - Deceive/Play, Bodyrockers - I Like The Way, The Caesars - Jerk It Out, The Cribs - Hey Scenesters!, DNF vs. Rozalla - Everybody’s Free To Feel Good, Dynamite MC - Industry [12” only], Editors - Munich, Elvis Costello - Brilliant Mistake [7” only], Elvis Presley - Way Down, Feeble Weiner - Sally Be, Halifax - A Writers’ Reference, Hard Fi - Tied Up Too Tight, Ian Broudie - Smoke Rings EP, Infusion - Girls Can Be Cruel, Ja Rule - Caught Up, Karen O - Hello Tomorrow [Download Only], Kari Kleiv - When Can I See You [7” only], Katie Buckhaven - We’re Not The Same, Levellers - Make U Happy, Manic Street Preachers - God Save The Manics EP [Download Only], Neon - Dizziness, Nine Inch Nails - The Hand That Feeds, Quartzlock - Love Eviction, The Rakes - Retreat, Rava - Hot Tin Groove, Reuben - Blamethrower [Download Only], Slunt - The Best Thing, Steve Mac Ft Steve Smith - Loving You More, Tegan & Sara - Walking With A Ghost

Apologies for the lack of updates recently. My computer hate the blogger window, there are GCSE exams looming and I'm not listening to the radio nearly as much as normal. I'll be back on full form come the summer anyway, promise. H x

Sunday, April 17, 2005

UK Top 75 (17/04/05)

This week, if the news hasn't reached you already, download sales have been intergrated with the UK singles chart, roughly doubling the size of the market and thus supposedly making the charts slightly more interesting and relevant again. Then again, with JK and Joel presenting the show, many listeners argue that this just isn't going to happen.

Already a loophole in the rules has been revealed and exploited, while many of the other tracks have started to achieve that rare feat that is known as 'climbing'.

New Entries:
Number one, and no surprise there, is still Tony Christie managing what is now a fifth week at the top. My single of the week, 'Somewhere Else' gives Razorlight this week's highest new entry at 2, while Ciara fails to match her previous chart success with '1 2 Step' only reaching number 3. Elvis is new at 4 and Freeloaders also make the top 10 with 'So Much Love To Give' at 9.

Interpol have another top 20 hit on their hands with 'C'Mere', at 19, and Anastacia narrowly misses out on a top 20 placing. Her new single 'Heavy On My Heart' is new at 21.

Now, here's the story exposing the oddities that can come out of the download chart. Chart rules state that download sales are only available for inclusion if a physical copy of a single is on release. Gorillaz sneakily released a few hundred copies of a special edition vinyl for 'Feel Good Inc' while encouraging fans to legally download the single several weeks before its official release. The result? A chart placing at 22. It will be interesting to see what happens to this one over the next few weeks.

Other notable new entries include Daft Punk (32), Hal (38), Maroon 5 (39) and Kings of Leon (41).

This week's climbers:
Gwen Stefani is up one place to 10 with 'Rich Girl' while Studio B, Jem and Natalie Imbruglia seem to have also benefitted from the download sales. Phantom Planet and Basement Jaxx allow their hold over the download chart to influence the new top 40 while many hit singles from earlier in the year are present in the lower regions of the chart. 'Galvanise' from the Chemical Brothers and this year's hits from U2 and Eminem have made re-entries, thanks to their popularity with the downloading public.

For the Top 75 in full, click here.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (11/04/05)

Single of the Week:

There really could only be one...

Razorlight - 'Somewhere Else'
Borrell and the boys are back with possibly their catchiest hook yet, a stunning track that manages to worm its way into your head before refusing to budge. I love it, I really do, and I've actually bothered to go out and buy it too. 5/5

All Releases:
10,000 Things - Dogsbody, 3am Ft Tracey Cole - Somebody Told Me, Anastacia - Heavy On My Heart, Brand New Heavies Ft Nicole Russo - Surrender, Ciara Ft Missy Elliott - 1, 2 Step, Daft Punk - Robot Rock, Dead Fly Buchowski - Russian Doll, Degrassi - Tell Charles I’m On My Way, Elvis Presley - The Wonder Of You, Etienne De Crecy - Someone Like You, Everstrong - Take Me Home, Fans of Kate - I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands, The Features - Blow It Out, Field Music - Shorter Shorter, Freeloaders - So Much Love To Give, The Grates - The Ouch, The Touch, HAL - Play The Hits, Interpol - C’Mere, Juliet - Avalon, Kings Of Leon - King Of The Rodeo, Maroon 5 - Must Get Out, Melanie Blatt - See Me, Mint Royale - Wait For You, Noblesse Oblige - Bitch/Daddy (Don’t Touch Me There), Noisettes - Three Moods Of, Pure Reason Revolution - The Bright Ambassadors Of Morning, Quartzlock - Love Eviction, Razorlight - Somewhere Else, Secret Machines - Road Leads Where It’s Lead, Stereo Star Ft Mia J - Utopia (Where I Want To Be), Vitalic - My Friend Dario, Your Code Name Is: Milo - 17, Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies - Ores

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Delays @ Derby Assembly Rooms

The Delays emerge from the wings to something of an applause. The crowd have been waiting at the barrier since 7pm, some having queued for most of the day, and the aforementioned support band have arrived on stage a little later than the previously announced 7:30, possibly due to the fact that somebody messed up the timings at Southampton the night before.

Greg Gilbert of The DelaysNevertheless, the boys begin their set, launching into 'Wanderlust', the opening track of their debut album 'Faded Seaside Glamour', . There's a noticeable amount of vocal reverb, to add more strength to the voice of guitarist Greg Gilbert, which surges admirably, although you can't help wondering what he would sound like without it. His brother Aaron, and bassist Colin Fox provide backing vocals, creating warm, perfect harmonies - the base of the typical Delays sound.

There is a showcase of promising excerpts from the forthcoming second album, although the most well-received numbers are hit singles 'Nearer Than Heaven' and 'Lost In A Melody' and the latter really packs a punch, live. There is applause, and some cheering from the crowd, the atmosphere understandably more relaxed than what is yet to come. However, many are swaying, nodding their heads in time for the music or even dancing. In the aftermath of the gig, it appears the opinion of the audience has been split - some are loving the Delays' mellow sound and others end up labelling them mediocre and moving on.

The full line up - Aaron, Greg, Rowly and ColinGreg Gilbert is very apologetic and humble for a frontman, not at all seeming arrogant, and seeming genuinely appreciative of this coveted support slot. He even apologises in advance for going out of tune (which he does) and smiles, half chuckling, half rubbing his face when he accidentally smacks his mouth into the microphone. This said - it got a louder cheer than the majority of the set, which was a little cruel. Meanwhile Colin and Rowly (master of the beats) keep a low profile, Aaron takes many an opportunity to swagger across the stage, drink in hand, almost as if the audience isn't there, leaving pre-programmed music to run free. It makes you wonder...

It was a good set, the band's performance slick and captivating, despite a few technical hitches, although it was nothing compared to what was yet to come.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Manic Street Preachers + Delays @ Derby Assembly Rooms (part one)

Part one of three in a readable series of bitesized chunks, because everyone knows I can't control myself when I really want to write a lot about something. Fangirlish squeeing will be kept to an absolute minimum.

For the record, I'm not a 'hardcore' Manic Street Preachers fan. Then again, I'm hardly a casual fan either. My attitude places me somewhere in between - a girl that doesn't seem to have a day without the music, yet will not appear at gigs with tiara, feather boa and spraypainted t-shirt. This is partly because my friends will think I have finally lost it.

Considering the Manics' commercial boom and Richey-era were long before I even knew what pop music was, it was sometime last year before I bought 'Forever Delayed' on a whim and instantly fell in love with this band I previously knew nothing about. Do my friends like the Manics? Not particularly, and definitely not to the degree I do. It seems a shame, really.

Much to my annoyance, I missed the Lifeblood tour in 2004 due to a badly timed prior commitment, so attending Past/Present/Future was a must. Small venues? So much the better.

Of course, things didn't run smoothly. After a successful pre-sale, nabbing four standing tickets, it was 3 delivery days before the gig the tickets were actually dispatched, despite SeeTickets insisting they would be there at least 5 days before. They did eventually arrive, after a lot of stressing on my part, and so on Monday, accompanied by my good friends Michael and Jonny, and driven by my Dad, I headed off to Derby...

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (04/04/05)

Let me be honest here - it's hardly the best week for releases in the singles market. I would advise you to wander down to your local record shop and buy an album, such as the latest from Martha Wainwright, or make a pre-order for the forthcoming release from Do Me Bad Things, but since I feel obliged to review what is out this week, here is a brief track-by-track summary.

The Bees - 'Chicken Payback'
If you fancy a one-dimensional song about a dance about monkeys, piggies, camels and, of course, chickens, then listen, by all means. I just think it sounds like sub-standard country rock with a very weird and, if I'm being picky, incaccurate video. Come on, it's an insult to dance machines... 2/5

Feeder - 'Feeling A Moment'
More generic new-Feeder with a little more motion to it than 'Tumble and Fall'. It's nice, but becomes boring incredibly quickly. 2.5/5

Garbage - 'Why Do You Love Me?'
It's my single of the week by default. While it's nice to see the return of Shirley Manson and the boys there's not too much to like about this. The thrashy main riff isn't exciting enough to hold your interest for the entire song and the chorus is basically a simple chant, void of all soul and meaning. Where the song might have redeemed itself during the middle-eight, that guitar riff rudely interrupts and spoils the whole thing. Lyrically, Garbage are floundering. Heaven only knows how they still manage to be the best thing this week. 3/5

Melanie C - 'Next Best Superstar'
Ex-Spice tries to do the 'rock chick' thing and fails, miserably. That's all there is to say. 1/5

The Others - 'William'
Sometimes I have a guilty feeling that if The Others got rid of their frontman, and swopped him for another, I just might like them. However, while he is there, his overbearing presence is just going to put me off trying to make any kind of constructive criticism. Bah. 2/5

So, as someone put it to me earlier this week - there often ARE better songs, but I just haven't heard them. So, what have I missed?

All Releases: (may be subject to change - all listened to in bold)
The Bees - Chicken Payback, Box Codax - Boys & Girls, Clem Snide - Fill Me With Your Light, The Departure - Lump In My Throat, Elton John - Turn The Lights Out When You Leave, Elvis Presley - Crying In The Chapel, Feeder - Feeling A Moment, Garbage - Why Do You Love Me?, Jose Gonzales - Crosses [7” only], Kelis - In Public, Longview - Falling For You [7” only], Melanie C - Next Best Superstar, Natasha Bedingfield - I Bruise Easily, One Self - Be Your Own, The Others - William, Outrage - Stop Smokin’, People In Planes - Talking Heads, Presidents Of The United States of America - Love Everybody, Pure Reason Revolution - The Bright Ambassadors Of Morning [DVD only], Riff Random - Trash Heart EP, Silent League - Catbird Seat [7” only], Sophie B Hawkins - Beautiful Girl, Stix Ft Corrine Bailey Rae - Young and Foolish, Tim McGraw - Live Like You Were Dying, Vatican DC - We Carnival EP, Vitalic - My Friend Dario