Friday, March 31, 2006

Albums Round-Up 2006: Tilly and the Wall - Wild Like Children

Tilly and the Wall - Wild Like Children
Technically, this was released in 2004 - but that was in the States, so we don't care. Here, Tilly and the Wall present their first UK offering, with a second to follow soon. Hailing from the fair old state of Nebraska, this girl-boy group specialise in bittersweet jangle-pop with a folky edge, whilst retaining one distinctive quality: they have no drummer. Instead, they rely on the clattering feet of tap dancer Jamie Williams to provide rhythm, and believe it or not, it actually works. So Tilly and the Wall's stomping tunes are quite literally that - stomping. But the band aren't one-trick ponies. The presence of Williams might seem like a gimmick, but when it's patched together with sweet-tooth melodies and a slightly dissonant tone, the end result is a most delightful racket. Songs like 'Reckless' and 'The Ice Storm, Big Gust and You' are both plaintive and blithe, calling to mind groups such as The Pipettes, a lo-fi Rilo Kiley, or nineties Britpop protagonists Bis. The vocals of Neely Jenkins and Kianna Alarid are particular highlights, replete with a soulful, old-country sweetness that comes fresh from the Great Plains themselves. They're properly homespun, this lot. They still need to hone their sound - it doesn't always work at times, and comes across as hashed - but with their follow-up album (Bottoms of Barrels) due in May, they certainly have the chance.

MP3: 'The Ice Storm, Big Gust and You'.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hannah's Videowatch (Volume 2)

I like nothing better than to sit in front of the TV, flick through the music channels, and severely annoy anyone else who happens to be sat on the sofa at the time. Here's what I've been watching and enjoying recently:

1) Boy Least Likely To - Be Gentle With Me (see the video)
Originally due for release a few weeks ago, it's now been put back for some time in April. I'm not complaining - it means we get to see this fabulously twee and wonderfully colourful video. So, imagine you're trying to impress a girl. You've just got one problem - you're a marionette and all your movement is caused by your bandmate, who appears to be hanging from the nearest tree. Thus, you've got severely impaired dance moves and you end up thrusting a bunch of flowers into your date's face. Meanwhile, a group of brightly coloured animal puppets are playing your song. It's inevitable the girl's going to go off with the bunny rabbit, isn't it?
(It's one of the most fantastic videos of this year so far - go watch!)

2) Snow Patrol - You're All That I Have (see the video)
The best thing about Snow Patrol videos is charting the growth of frontman Gary Lightbody's hair. Throughout the 'Final Straw' era it grew from being short-n-sensible and expanded into a long curly mass coming dangerously close to Brian May territory. So, you'll be happy to know it's still curly, but at least Gary's hair looks somewhat tamed in this new Snow Patrol video. And, oddly enough, it's a Snow Patrol video with what appears to be a sizeable budget, because this time we have special effects (let's hear it now - oooooh!). The band's performance is electrifying. Literally. Confident, well-dressed and putting on an exciting show - I'm so glad Snow Patrol are back.

3) The Raconteurs - Steady As She Goes (see video - go to media section)
You're off to a great start when you open a music video with footage of cows, aren't you? Fabulous. Can't go wrong with a few cows. This slightly grainy and simplistic video from Jack White and Brendan Benson's side-project is a nice change from the usual eccentrically arty and highly polished videos we've come to expect from the White Stripes. Even Brendan's usually have some clever little element to them. But no, this is The Raconteurs. They're playing in a tiny room with Jack White pretending he's not a rock megastar, but a member of a new (but - let's admit it - hyped up to the eyeballs) indie band with their first video. Things to watch out for include Jack's hair (virtually like the straightened style he had a few years ago) and Brendan's hat. I like Brendan's hat, not that it's going to give him any extra status and prove his position as joint-frontman. It's quite sad that all the fuss is about Jack, when this is just as much Brendan's (and the other boys' - let's not forget them!) baby as it is his.

4) Coldplay - The Hardest Part (see the video)
Considering the doom and gloom of recent Coldplay videos (let's face it - the last three have been shot pretty much in the dark) it's wonderful to see the band clad in sunglasses and performing in the bright sunlight of Tampa, Florida. They look very much the confident rock band, and it makes you realise just how much they've moved on since 'Shiver'. Chris Martin's mass of hair may be back, but this time it looks strangely cool. However, don't despair thinking 'The Hardest Part' is just another Coldplay performance vid (yawn, yawn - we've seen this a gazillion times before) because this time there's another element that leaves you wondering 'is this for real?'. I won't tell you what it is, because it'll spoil the surprise, but it's the most delightfully odd and beautifully shot video they've produced in a long time. What I want to know though - is the 'additional element' new footage made to look old, or old footage with the band added in?

5) Charlotte Church - Moodswings (see the video)
It's already out as a single, and the video's been around for nearly a couple of months now, but it's still incredibly watchable, and everytime you can spot something new. I feel sorry for Charlotte, because it looks like one of the most repetitive and boring videos to shoot. Most bands/singers have to shoot their performance bits many, many times, but imagine doing that not just in one costume, but loads of them. Fortunately for us, it makes for great watching, seeing Charlotte and her co-star's costumes changing every beat, often with hilarious results. Brilliant.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hannah's Single of the Week (27/03/06)

Special Mentions:
Editors - 'All Sparks'
(official site - includes video - click 'music')
I like this week's single from Editors, despite the fact it's a bit lacking in originality (let's face it - despite being kings of icy-cool 'gothic-indie' - they're not the best at variety) and like the others it's very much a grower. With every listen you can definitely pick out more of the subtleties that aren't apparent first time round. If you're a fan of the band, you'll like it, but if you haven't been captivated thus far, this single isn't going to change your mind. They should have released 'Fingers In The Factories', shouldn't they?

The Kooks - 'Naive' (official site and video)
Curly-haired indieboys, The Kooks, are back with a new single - 'Naïve'. Tom Baker is doing the voiceover for the ad (he gets about a bit, doesn't he?) which you can't really escape at the minute, making me think the record company are really giving this band a push. Deservedly so - they've produced a series of solid, catchy singles and apparently the album's pretty good too. It's actually already in the chart at 28 on download sales alone - impressive considering that equals the first week placing of 'Sofa Song' (combined singles and downloads) back in October.

Other stuff:
I used to really dislike Morrissey (I know, I know, don't shoot me), but this new single of his is good stuff, with a truly fabulous chorus. Secret Machines' 'Lightning Blue Eyes' also made an impression on me, even though I've only heard it once. That's always the sign of a good single. The Streets' new one - 'When You Wasn't Famous' has a catchy sample, and a few amusing and clever lines, but I still think Mike Skinner is tremendously overrated. If he was the modern equivalent of Shakespeare that the press claim him to be he would just not use the phrase 'big, wide smile'. It just sounds so rushed and childish.

Single of the Week:
The Pipettes - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me (official site - includes video)
Last year, The Pipettes released their first top 75 single, and what a fine single it was. 'Dirty Mind' packed wit, intelligence, melody and a dance routine into one three-minute-long package. So while this 'new' single (a re-recorded live favourite) from the three girls fond of polka-dot attire doesn't have the same lyrical bite as its predecessor, it still manages to be amazing. It doesn't actually matter that the song isn't as smart, the 'and you might cry...' bit is adorable and it's still incredibly catchy. I've actually gone out and bought the CD this week and was pleasantly surprised to learn the tracklisting on the sleeve is a misprint. As well as the single itself, and the promised acoustic version of 'Dirty Mind', you also get an acoustic version of 'Judy' (an earlier limited edition single) which happens to be one of my favourite Pipettes songs. The CD's worth it for that alone. The vinyl's also a fabulous shade of green - just thought you should know.

MP3 time:
Heaps of Pipettes mp3-shaped goodies are floating around on the net. We recommend using The Hype Machine to have a broader look, but if you're after one great song in particular - it's this one. There's an acoustic version of it on the b-side of one of the formats of 'Your Kisses...' but this is the original. It's about tagging along with that girl who keeps getting all the boys. I think I knew (and tagged along with) that girl, too, but her name wasn't Judy. ;)
The Pipettes - Judy (Wotcha Gonna Do?) [mp3 link expired]

All Releases:
Andy Abraham – Hang Up, Arthur Baker feat. Tim Wheeler - Glow, The Automatic – Raoul, Big Strides – Let's Get Nice, Broken Social Scene – 7/4 Shoreline, Cagedbaby – Hello There, The Cinematics – Break, Clearlake – Neon, Copyright feat. Imaani – Bring Me Love, David Gray – Alibi, David Morales – How Would U Feel, Deepgroove - Fascinated, Depeche Mode – Suffer Well, Editors – All Sparks, Guillemots – We’re Here, Imperial Vipers – Jewels, Jimmy Johnstone, Jim Kerr, Simple Minds & Laura McGhee - Tribute To Jinky EP, Keith Urban – You’ll Be Thinking Of Me, The Kooks – Naïve, KoRn – Coming Undone, Ludes – Never Had A Chance, Michael Jackson – The Way You Make Me Feel, Milburn - Send In The Boys, Morrissey – You Have Killed Me, Muthafunkaz feat. Marc Evans - I Don't Want You Anymore, Neils Children – Another Day, Newton Faulkner – Full Fat EP, Nine Horses – Wonderful World, Open Air feat. Gran'ma Funk - Hi Roller, Peven Everett – Stuck, Pipettes – Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me, Prince/Tamar feat. Prince – Black Sweat/Beautiful, Loved & Blessed, Royal Ballet Sinfonia – Radio 4 UK Theme, Rogers Sisters – Never Learn To Cry, Seal Cub Clubbing Club – Celine EP, Secret Machines - Lightning Blue Eyes, Semifinalists – You Said [7" Only], Smoosh – La Pump, Soulshaker – Hypnotic Erotic Games, The Streets – When You Wasn’t Famous, Suffrajets - Going Nowhere, T Pain - I'm Sprung, Two Gallants – Steady Rollin’, Veldt – Walking In Silence, Walker Brothers - Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore

Monday, March 27, 2006

Lewis's single to avoid (27/03/06)

Royal Ballet Sinfonia - Radio 4 UK Theme
Recently there were plans afoot to do away with this muddle of trad. arr. tunes that greets anyone insane enough to be listening to Radio 4 at 5.30am. However, the decision was met with harrumphings all round: Outrageous! Just not cricket! Destroys what it means to be British! Despite the fact that the bloody thing was put together by an Austrian; just like cups of tea came from India and potatoes came from South America. We're not much good at doing things for ourselves. This is a jaunt through some of the most tedious classical pieces known to man - 'Rule Britannia' calls to mind hideous toff-pogoing on Proms Night; 'Scotland The Brave' is about as appealing as a wet weekend in Pitlochry; 'Men of Harlech' has the charisma of a leek, etc. etc. The segue into 'Londonderry Air' is a nice touch, as is the use of 'Greensleeves', but the latter is undone by transposing a piss-poor piccolo version of 'What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor' over the top of it. And perhaps the most damning criticism of this lies in its horrible, horrible connotations of having to get up at 5.30am. It should never have to be heard by human ears.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Albums Round-Up 2006 - Delays - You See Colours

Delays - You See Colours
The Delays' first album, 'Faded Seaside Glamour', a record recommended by my English teacher, of all people, became one of my favourite albums of 2004. This eagerly anticipated followup takes a sharp turn away from the wistful dreaminess on the band's debut and instead reaches for the dizzying heights of disco friendly electropop. The joys of indie and pop merge into one, and God, it's good. Right from the stirring emotional storm of opening track 'You And Me' you know you're in for something special. Aside from the opener, standout tracks include disco-stomper and former WL single of the week/month/year so far, 'Valentine', the incredibly bouncy next single 'Hideaway' and the critics' favourite 'Lillian' but the album's consistantly strong throughout.

Many critics have dismissed the Delays as being too 'saccharine' - maybe true, but I think that's the whole point. 'You See Colours' is the musical equivalent of a handful of Haribo and hey - I like Haribo! The only catch, really, is a few of the tracks have so much going on they can become somewhat overwhelming on first listen and the stunning falsetto of frontman Greg Gilbert can sometimes get a little lost in the mix. Still, it's a perfect excuse to listen again, isn't it? This is a proper pop album - one of those records that could bring both the pop and the indie kids together and whaddya know? It's my favourite record of the year so far.

MP3 Time:
Lost In The Melody have a gig bootleg and some acoustic session tracks in their downloads section. My favourite of the session tracks is 'Out Of Nowhere'. While 'Hideaway' doesn't sound quite right, 'Out Of Nowhere' translates really well to acoustic. (Thanks Michael.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hannah's Single of the Week (20/03/06)

Before I begin - listen up G4. This is how you cover 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. Not by blandifying the whole thing and getting rid of most of the guitars. Thank you Flaming Lips. (And thanks to the ever fabulous Take Your Medicine)


It's a slow time of year. Big releases are few and far-between, and Sunday was a day of record breaking sales. Well, lack of sales, really. Orson's 'No Tomorrow' finally hit the top spot after a three week climb (each week - it's interesting to note - still experiencing a decline in sales) and is now the record to sell the least copies whilst holding the number one spot. With just less than 18,000 copies sold, it's even a couple of thousand under the record set by Elvis Presley last year.

There was also only one 'new' entry in the top 10, courtesy of Girls Aloud, thanks to 'download only' singles. So, what about this week? One of the dreariest singles in a band's career is heading for the top spot, Michael Jackson is still re-releasing his back-catalogue Presley-style to increasingly positive effect and...there's not much else out, really. Damn.

Special Mentions:
The Strokes - Heart In A Cage (official site and video)
Once before I was won over by Nick Valensi's intricate guitarwork. That was when The Strokes released 'Reptilia'. Instantly impressed with the lead riff, the solo, and the song itself, I dashed out to buy 'Room On Fire'. What a disappointment, eh? This is another Strokes song where the lead guitar IS the lead guitar, rather than masked by the sometimes-muddy rhythm. Julian's vocals are still as mumbly as ever, so it's up to the guitar to bring some real clarity to the song. However, while there's essentially nothing wrong with 'Heart In A Cage' it's pretty much the American equivalent of anything the Stereophonics released after 'Dakota'. It's good, sure, but it's completely dwarfed by the album's lead single.

Single of the Week:
Pink - Stupid Girls (official site and video)
I've already made comment on the video accompanying this track, but this isn't all about the video, oh no. After the majority of the single releases from her third album 'Try This' failed to make much of an impact and the album sales, in comparison with 'Misundaztood', were pitiful, it was vital that Pink re-invented herself once again. Scrapping the odd combo of punk-pop and power ballads Pink has almost returned to her R&B roots with one of her catchiest and most talked about single releases to date. With a tongue-in-cheek attack on the celeb culture that allows you to be famous just for being ditzy, cute and blonde 'Stupid Girls' is a lyrically witty song with a bit of a message behind it too. And, ignoring the little girl in the video favouring an american football to make-up and dolls, it doesn't come across as particularly corny. Of course, with a song that manages to simultaneously mock Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson et al I'm hardly going to complain, but this is more that that. It's genuinely funny and also great fun.

All Releases:
Amadou & Mariam – Coulibaly, Amy Wadge – A Design For Life / Keep On Ticking, Arthur Baker feat. Tim Wheeler – Glow, Crosbi – Sonny, Embrace – Nature’s Law, Erasure – Boy, Fields - Song For The Fields [7" Only], Fizzgig - Sympathy EP, Flaws – No Room, Four Story - Hand On My Heart/Tracks Of My Tears [Full Release], G4 & Lesley Garrett – Barcelona: Mothers Day EP [Download], Good Shoes – We Are Not The Same, Killing Joke - Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell, Lacuna Coil – Our Truth, Ladyfuzz - Bouncy Ball, The Low Frequency In Stereo – Astro Kopp, Lupen Crook – Love 80, Massari – Be Easy, Mattafix – To & Fro, Michael Jackson – Bad, Muthafunkaz feat. Marc Evans – I Don’t Want You Anymore, M.V.P. – Bounce, Shake, Move, Stop, Nelly feat. Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp – Grillz, Ne*Yo – So Sick, New Young Pony Club – Get Lucky, Nouvelle Vague – I Melt With You/Teenage Kicks, Oceansize – New Pin, The Organ – Brother, Pink – Stupid Girls, Rammstein – Mann Gegen Mann, Richard Hawley – Born Under A Bad Sign, Satomi feat. Doc Brown – Oh, Sean Paul – Temperature, Shania Twain - Shoes, The Strokes – Heart In A Cage, Suffrajets – Going Nowhere, Tahiti 80 – Big Day, Trivium – Dying In Your Arms, Vanlustbader – Rock N Roll Part 3, The Vines - Gross Out [Download Only: 21/03/06], The Vineyards – Good Rock For Good People, Winter Roberts – Head In Your Clouds/A Hundred Miles A Minute, Winterville – Breathe [7" Only], Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Gold Lion

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Albums Round-Up 2006 - Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

Since we're well into 2006, I'm starting a recap of some of my favourite albums of the year so far. Lewis may also join in, but I reckon I'll have to ask him very nicely. Anyway, we're starting off with one of the most talked about acts of the year...

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Hideous artwork aside, chances are you'll either have bought this and loved it (me, countless other people), or avoided it like the plague and glared at anyone who dares like it (Elz, Lewis, quite a few other people). My stance on the album itself has always been it's good, yes, but nowhere near as good as your average critic appears to think it is. While lyrically it's brilliant, it falls down a little on the musical front. Sure, it's rifftastic and bouncy, but it provides little in the way of innovation and is often largely based around power chords and pentatonic noodling. The Arctic Monkeys are not the saviours of modern music, even if they are a welcome and refreshing change to the average Coldplay-esque output of the UK mainstream.

However this does not mean the album isn't incredibly enjoyable. There's no doubting the fact that the boys have a knack of creating some of the catchiest melodies around and can get the audience singing along more easily than to your average stadium anthem. Album highlights include both UK number one singles (which if you don't know already - where have you been?) alongside the bass-led 'Dancing Shoes' and, surprisingly, the Monkeys' quieter moments as showcased on 'Riot Van' and the wonderful 'Mardy Bum'.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Lewis's single to avoid (20/03/06)

The Vines - 'Gross Out'
Aren't we lucky? The Vines have decided that we simply cannot cope without them, and have decided to reform. Hearing this will leave you wondering exactly why they bothered. It's a mess by all accounts; an idle cacophony of thrashing guitars and Craig Nicholls' blathering vocal. The Vines sound like a lobotomised version of the White Stripes, and what they've produced here ain't pretty. I don't know where they got the idea from that we need to hear them again. Hopefully this will be a decidedly ephemeral comeback, and they'll be permanently defunct before long - withered on the vine, if you will.

Friday, March 17, 2006

New Box Five live mp3s...

Actually, forget that - the entire gig (almost!) is here.

Mary Bichner - singer/songwriter

Need I say anymore? They're as fabulous as can be expected.
Of course, if you know nothing of Box Five already (which is understandable - they're a well-kept secret) they are perpetrators of quirky piano-led pop led by the simply gorgeous vocal of Mary Bichner. Actually, that's a half-truth - Mary writes and arranges the songs and the band line-up rotates around her. Everything from guitar and strings to woodwind and percussion have joined Mary and her trusty keyboard. Plenty of free mp3s are also available on the Box Five jukebox or if you search back through the news archives. Our favourites are Killjoy, Snow Hymn and Nice Boy/Blow My Cover, but every single track on there is worth checking out.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Hannah's Single of the Week (13/03/06)

Special Mentions:
Girls Aloud - Whole Lotta History (official site - includes video)
Somebody really needs to tell the person responsible for the singles released by Girls Aloud that while ballads are all well and good, when you have such incredible pop songs as 'Models' and 'Racy Lacey' at your disposal you really should release them instead. This is the girls' second ballad on the trot and while it's not a bad ballad (see: Westlife) by any means, it's not one of those that really takes your breath away, either. Still, it's an original song, for once, as opposed to a cover which you're instantly expected to compare to the original. It's an enjoyable listen, with a slightly-more-classy-than-usual video and a CD cover that's just as dodgy and predictable as any of their others. It just doesn't quite soar.

Bell X1 - Flame (official site and video)
Believe it or not, I only heard of Bell X1 this week. Such a poor amateur music journalist am I. They're one of those bands that are very popular in their home country of Ireland, but have made little of an impact so far over here. It's a shame really, because, as The Torture Garden has shown this fortnight, there's a LOT of good Irish music out there that hasn't broken into the mainstream on these shores. Music that's far better than U2 and Westlife, anyway. Formerly known as Juniper (before the departure of now-successful solo star Damien Rice), Bell X1 appear to have created that kind of tune that has the melody and motion of a great pop song while still carrying that indie vibe. With the pounding beat, rich harmonies, singalong chorus and lyrics about marshmallows (mmm...marshmallows) it's infectious and irresistable.

Mark Ronson feat. Alex Greenwald - Just (video stream)
Radiohead's 'Just' is easily one of my favourite tracks from the band's highly successful second album. It proved they weren't just a one hit wonder, they could make one of the greatest videos of all time and that Jonny Greenwood's guitar style was something all his own. So, how exactly do you set about covering 'Just', hip-hop style? More importantly, how do you do it well? Here's how. Replace the wild guitars with trumpets, introduce a killer beat and rope in that bloke who sings on the theme tune for the OC. By all means, it's not as good as the original (how could it be?) but it is a brilliant cover - not just a lazy copy. We're talking the Futureheads' 'Hounds Of Love' standard here. Mark Ronson has put his own stamp on it and Alex Greenwald's vocals are definitely worthy. And guess what? Radiohead have given it the thumbs up, too.

Single of the Week:
KT Tunstall - Another Place To Fall (official site and video)
After the disappointing lack of chart success of 'Under The Weather' (which I think was probably down to trying - unsuccesfully - to turn a perfect, wistful little number into another 'Suddenly I See') I was quite surprised to see Brit award winner KT releasing another single. After all, it's single-number-five, even single-number-six, if you include the early release of the 'False Alarm' EP. Still it's another great single, and this time it's another genuinely upbeat one. No daft re-recordings here, thank you very much. It also showcases the darker side of KT Tunstall. Not that KT could ever be that dark, bless her, but that guilt-inducing, voices-in-your-head feel that you can find in 'Another Place To Fall' gets quite creepy at points. Ignoring that, it's your typical piece of Tunstall-produced magic - syncopated acoustic guitar strums, a catchy chorus and a middle-eight that's almost too good to be true.

MP3 time:
So, in the spirit of releasing Radiohead covers, one of the b-sides to KT's current single is a cover of 'Fake Plastic Trees', yet another classic track from The Bends. Unfortunately we're not posting that, because it's an incentive for you lovely people to go out and buy the single (or order/download it off the internet). Instead, here's KT covering a slightly different song, namely Missy Elliot's 'Get Your Freak On', for the Live Lounge. So, we've had hip-hop covering indie - now here's indie (well, indie-ish) covering hiphop. Fantastic stuff.
[a week has passed - no more mp3!]

All Releases:
Alexis Strum - It Could Be You, Angela Lawriw feat. Skinnyman - Another Day, Armand Van Helden - Sugar, Battle - Tendency, Be Your Own Pet - Adventure, Bell X1 - Flame, Beverley Knight - (Take A Little) Piece Of My Heart, Black Eyed Peas - Pump It, Bones - It's My Life, Chalets - Theme From Chalets [7" Only], Claire Sproule - Wondering, The Crimea - White Russian Gallery, Dem Franchize Boyz - I Think They Like Me, The Disco Boys - For You 2006 Fixit Kid - Whiskey Pit [7" Only], Foo Fighters - No Way Back/Cold Day In The Sun, Fun*dmental ’03 - Jump/Playground, Girls Aloud - Whole Lotta History, Groovenut vs Kim Wilde - Love You More, Help She Can't Swim - Midnight Garden, Hilary Duff - Fly, Hipslinky - Taking It Back, James Blunt - Wisemen, Joey Negro - Make A Move On Me, Jont - You Can Be The Stars, Juelz Santana - There It Go! (The Whistle Song), Kano - Brown Eyes/Signs In Life, KT Tunstall - Another Place To Fall, Lashawn Collins - What You Gonna Do Now? [7" Only], Life Like & Kris Menace - Discopolis, Mark Ronson feat. Alex Greenwald - Just, Massive Attack feat. Terry Callier - Live With Me, Matisyahu - King Without A Crown, Michael Jackson - Beat It, Morning After Girls - Hi Skies, Mstrkrft - Easy Love, Murmur - Understand, The Open - La Lumiere, Paradise - Wanna Be Free, Pearl Jam - World Web Suicide, Ray-J - One Wish, Rythme Fatal Ft Redd Angel - Man In The Mirror, Samandtheplants - EP 1: Malimoo Moves [7" Only], Sara Jorge - Beautiful World, Shy Child - Technicrats/Summertime [7" Only], Soul Seekerz - Party For The Weekend, Soundcode - Mystery, Spida Lee - Verbal Assassin, Stain'd - Right Here, Stasi - Dystopia, Waking Eyes - But I Already Have It [7" Only], Zero 7 - Futures

Monday, March 13, 2006

Lewis's single to avoid (13/03/06)

Staind - 'Right Here'
If ever you find yourself tempted to listen to Staind, please take heed of the following unsavoury omens:

1. According to Wikipedia, the cover art for their first album Tormented 'depicted a stabbed Bible, a crucified barbie doll, and the words "there's nothing left for me" scrawled in blood across the wall'.

2. They were discovered by Fred Durst.

3. They once released an album entitled 14 Shades of Grey. Sounds fascinating, doesn't it?

4. They come up with lyrics that trill: 'Take your wordly advice / and shove it straight up your ass / Thanks for coming around / to fuck up my day'. Imagine the parents. "He's been suffering from behavioural difficulties, and we really believe that he could benefit from some counselling..."

It's not looking good. Staind are the very nadir of emo metal, and that's saying something. This release will please anyone who's salivating in anticipation of the next Nickelback single. Actually, it might not even please them. It's immeasurably dull, the lyrics are an atrocity in themselves, and you get the feeling that they've done it a thousand times before. Steer clear.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Hannah's Videowatch

Our lovely Elz is taking a break away from the 'net for a while, so to liven WL up a bit I'm going to tell you a little bit about some great music videos from some equally promising forthcoming singles...

1) The Zutons - Why Don't You Give Me Your Love? (video here)
The vid for this lead single from the band's second album is a fantastic West Side Story style dance vid starring frontman David McCabe and saxophonist Abi Harding as leaders of opposing gangs. There's dancing down the street, choreographed headturns, a fight between the two band members and several shots of David looking a little uncomfortable with the requirement of movement. Bless him. This is why I'm adamant he has a body double when the camera takes a bird's eye view. Ahem.

2) Protocol - Love Is My Drug (video here)
The 80s electropop revivalists follow up their fantastic single 'Where's The Pleasure?' with a bizarre, slightly cheap-n-sleazy looking video where you can also actually see the hideous haircuts in the light of day. Scary stuff. It is, to be truthful, the band's worst video to date, especially since they seem to be playing the 'let's use sexy nurses' card, but then again, some people like that sort of thing.

3) Pink - Stupid Girls (video here)
If you haven't seen this already - where have you been? Pink's latest single is one of those songs that was just MADE for video. There's mocking of Jessica Simpson (you can see why we like it!), Lindsay Lohan and several other 'stupid girls'. Comical, tongue-in-cheek and incredibly silly, but with a bit of a message - it's nice to see Pink returning to her pop roots.

4) Franz Ferdinand - The Fallen (video here)
Franz Ferdinand, always a band to make full, proper use of the video medium, have relaxed the creativity a bit for their new single. However, that doesn't mean that their latest vid isn't up to scratch. Incorporating live footage, scowling and a lot of marching around with guitars, it certainly isn't as arty as 'Walk Away' or all-out crazy as 'Do You Want To?' but it's far better than your average performance vid.

5) Belle And Sebastian - The Blues Are Still Blue (video here)
Oh Belle & Sebastian, how I love thee. The video for 'Funny Little Frog' was fantastic, but you're just about topped that here, haven't you? The new single 'The Blues Are Still Blue' has one of those extremely satisfying videos you can watch again and again and again, because there's so much going on. Themed around the happenings in a launderette, this video is essentially the guide to 20 (at a rough guess) silly things you can do with a washing machine. Y'know, wash a dog, grow a tomato plant, get married, make candyfloss - that sort of thing. One of the most incredibly well-thought-out vids I've seen so far this year.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hannah's Single of the Week (06/03/06)

This week the charts are supposedly incorporating a new rule - downloaded songs will now also count in the main chart one week before their physical release, rather than only counting the week the CD/vinyl single is out (as they do currently). Confused yet? Essentially this means the charts are going to get more interesting, with many singles climbing on their second week in the chart. Otherwise their influence on the chart itself should be pretty minimal - after all, it's only one day after they actually chart that you can find the single on the shelves of your local record store. For example, this Sunday you might expect to see the Black Eyed Peas' 'Pump It' somewhere in the top 40.

As for how this change will affect WL, we'll still be reviewing singles to coincide with their physical releases, and our general release listings should hopefully still reflect this. Support the physical formats, people!

Special Mentions:
Jenny Lewis - Rise Up With Fists (official site - includes video)
The Rilo Kiley frontwoman and my voice of 2005 is back with the first single from her debut solo effort 'Rabbit Fur Coat'. The album's good, but it doesn't quite measure up to her band's recent album 'More Adventurous' due to the noticeable absence of guitarist and musical influence Blake Sennett. Still, 'Rise Up With Fists' is one of the stronger tracks on the album and makes a fine single. The country influences really shine through here, accentuated by Jenny's gorgeous vocal, the lush harmonies provided by The Watson Twins and the acoustic guitar-driven nature of the piece. Next time, though, I'd like something with a little more motion. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for 'Big Guns'.

Placebo - Because I Want You (official site and video)
Brian Molko and co. are back. This lead single from their new album, 'Meds' is, to put it simply, Placebo-by-numbers. This is good if you like the odd bit of Placebo, as I do, but there's nothing particularly original or inspiring here to convert the non-fan - see this week's review from Lewis for a prime example. It's true - the lyrics are cliched, tired and repetitive and after over a decade of making music, you'd expect something a little more innovative from this band. The song's a good listen - I certainly wouldn't turn it off if it came on the TV or radio - but it just doesn't provide any incentive to buy the single or the forthcoming album. Sorry boys - something a little more inventive next time?

Single of the Week:
The Rifles - Repeated Offender (official site and video)
I was first drawn to this song by the simple fact that the band have a left-handed frontman. It's something a little different. Mind you, the Rifles aren't that different, really. They're yet another new band utilising the ska-but-not-quite vibe preferred by hit-makers Hard-Fi, The Dead 60s and The Ordinary Boys. However, like the aforementioned bands, they are also capable of producing a decent single somewhere along the way. 'Repeated Offender' is a speedy, pogotastic indie-anthem-in-the-making with a catchy chorus and lead riff. It's brief, too, running to only just over two and a half minutes. Adrenalin-rush pop for the indie discos - I like it.

Attack of the girlbands:
Sugababes - Red Dress (official site and video)
The 'babes deserve a mention this week, purely due to the fact that their line-up has changed for the second time since they first made an appearance on the charts. Mutya has left, and in her place is a young lady named Amelle, and it is on this single that she makes her debut. And that is quite possibly the most exciting thing about this release. It's nowhere near as catchy or infectious as 'Push The Button' or 'Ugly' and lacks a certain spark they both possessed, even if the latter's lyrics weren't exactly up to scratch. So, it is now we look to the b-side, as the girls cover the breakthrough track of one of the most talked about bands of the moment - the Arctic Monkeys' 'I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor'. They haven't changed it radically, but with a good song as a base, you can't go far wrong.

The Like - June Gloom (official site includes video)
Very rarely does an all-girl rock group get taken seriously. It's even more rare that an all-girl rock group has much success. The Faders and Love Bites (the latter limping in at 48 last week) have fallen at the first hurdle, so are The Like, the girl group from across the pond, likely to do any better? Possibly. They've got the critical backing from Q magazine (**** for their debut album) and 'June Gloom', their current single, hints at a less 'pop' sound than their contemporaries. Do I like them? I'm not sure. You see, looking at several of their promo photos they seem to have a large focus on image and look almost as if they've been let loose with several hundred pounds in Topshop. As for the music itself, 'June Gloom' has a bouncy Strokes-esque verse which jarrs a little uncomfortably with the general doom-and-gloom chorus. A chorus that sounds suspiciously like a blatent rip-off of Radiohead's classic 'Creep'. However, it does posess a sophistication and moodiness that stands the band above the rest of its kind. They're alright, really.

All Releases: (ones I've heard in bold)
8 Wonders - 8th Wonder Of The World, Above & Beyond - Alone Tonight , Absentee - Something To Bang, Avenged Sevenfold - Beast & The Harlot, BC Camplight - Blood & Peanut Butter, Beauty Shop - Monster, Bob Schneider - Captain Kirk, Bow Wow feat. Ciara - Like You, Camera - Out Of The Water [7" Only], The Concretes - Chosen One, Craig David - Unbelievable, David Gilmour - On An Island, Delilahs - This Is It [7" Only], Diamond Nights - Girls Attractive, Disturbed - Just Stop, Engerica - Smell, Fightstar - Waste A Moment, Flying Matchstick Men - All Yr Secrets, Gemma Hayes - Undercover, Hundred Reasons - Kill Your Own, Jaed - My Way, Jamie Cullum - Photograph, Jamie T - Betty & The Selfish Sons EP, Jane Weaver feat. Meadows - Is Everyone Happy? [7" Only], Jason Mraz - Geek In The Pink, Jenny Lewis - Rise Up With Fists, Julian Jabre - Swimming Places, Kanye West feat. Lupe Fiasco - Touch The Sky, Karmakops - Creatures/Come Back To Me, Koufax - Why Bother At All?, The Like - June Gloom, Living Things - Bom Bom Bom, Louie - Curves & The Bends, Marshals - Make Her Cry, Michael Jackson - Billie Jean, The Modern - Industry, My Robot Friend - 23 Minutes In Brussels/Dial 0 [12" & 7" Only], Neck - Everybodys Welcome To The Hooley, Nightmare Of You - Days Go By Oh So Slow [7" Only], Pendulum - Hold Your Colour (Remix)/Streamline, Pharcyde - Otha Fish [7" Only], Placebo - Because I Want You, Presets - Are You The One? [7" Only], Ray-J - One Wish, Reel People - In The Sun, Rifles - Repeated Offender, Rodrigo Y Gabriela - Tamacun [7" Only], Sarah Harvey Smart - Blinding, Shapeshifters - Incredible, Shimm 1 - Party, Skin - Just Let The Sun, Skyy - Easy/Slow Motion [7" Only], Spinto Band - Direct To Helmet, Stereolab - Whisper Pitch/Excursions Into Oh-Ah-Oh/Eye Of The Volcano [7" Only], Sugababes - Red Dress, Test Icicles - Totally Re-F*cked [7" Only], Ultrabeat Vs Scott Brown - Elysium, Unsound - Devote Your Life To A Lost Cause [7" Only], Yellowcard - Lights And Sounds

What's your single of the week?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lewis's single to avoid (06/03/06)

Placebo - 'Because I Want You'
Does anyone still like Placemo? These perpetual adolescents have been trotting out the same old tired crap for the last ten years, and the Great British Record-Buying Public still sees fit to prolong their career. Brian Molko is well into his thirties, so surely he should have outgrown lyrics like 'When I hit the bottle, 'cos I'm afraid to be alone...' by now? Not so; this pointless song is ripe with generic angst that will no doubt be appreciated by sad, insincere semi-goths. Continuously catering to this tedious market is never going to produce anything of worth. Come in Placemo, your time is up.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hannah's Single of the Week (27/02/06)

I've heard an uncharacteristically HUGE number of this week's releases, making just picking a few really tricky. So I've picked a few more than usual. Marathon post time. Sorry about that. Oh, and as for the self-indulgent and disturbingly badly written Chico record and it's godawful video - the less said, the better. Oh, other than it's heading to number one. People, are you mad?

Special Mentions:
Graham Coxon - Standing On My Own Again (official site and video)
All things considered, most of the members of Blur are doing pretty well for themselves. One's an influential songwriter hiding behind a few cartoons and selling millions and the other has joined forces with Betty Boo. Graham, meanwhile, is a rising solo megastar supporting Kaiser Chiefs, the band that cleaned up at the Brits and also happen to be a bit of a Blur rip-off. After the triumph that was 'Happiness In Magazines', I'm expecting big things for his followup album, 'Love Travels At Illegal Speeds'. 'Standing On My Own Again', this lead single, is a promising sign of what is yet to come, even if it's just basically Graham doing what he does best, and that hasn't really changed that much for the past ten years. Then again, I'm not complaining - this is great.

MP3 time:
The fantastic Mr Red Penguin has this single, plus another track, from Graham's recent Xfm session.

The Feeling - Sewn (official site)
For fans of Athlete's altogether chirpier first album who thought their second release was a sleep-inducing cheap Coldplay imitation, this is for you. Despite being your average slice of MOR indie, tailor-made for excessive radioplay, 'Sewn' has a certain charm. Maybe this is because it was recorded in a shed...or maybe not. Maybe it's because the phrase 'shake that ass' sounds as much out of place as certain four letter words in Belle and Sebastian songs, but it's there anyway. Yep, it's possibly that. The song's your typical mid-tempo affair, complete with obligatory Kasabian/Kaiser Chiefs style 'nananana' element so even the most forgetful among us can sing along. The video's also one to watch, especially for those of you who might get some sadistic thrill out of seeing mainstream indie rock sewn up into silence. Literally.

Hot Chip - Over and Over (official site includes video - scroll down!)
The first great alt-dance record of 2006 comes in the shape of 'Over and Over' by Hot Chip. Accompanied by a truly excellent and rather daft-but-clever video based around just what you can do with a green screen, this is a catchy piece of electro by a band who prove you never can have too many synths and sound effects. The chorus is bizarrely hypnotic, the middle-8 is something of a distorted intrumental freak out and the video really does add a whole new dimension to the song, so make sure you watch it. It's fantastic, it really is. In fact, this is soooo good, it should probably should be single of the week, but I'm just too lazy to move the review down a bit.

The Rakes - All Too Human (official site - includes video)
So here comes the stopgap single. In a similar style to The Zutons, Razorlight and Bloc Party before them, The Rakes are releasing a song previously not included on their debut record. This is until next week, of course, when the albums on the shelves will have it tacked on the end, delighting all those jumping on the bandwagon and irritating all those who have had to fork out again for the single because they bought the album AGES ago - including me. Not that I mind buying the single, of course. It's a good single and the b-sides look promising, too. Mind you, for those expecting another shouty 'Strasbourg' or claptastic '22 Grand Job', think again. This is an altogether quieter and more sophisticated affair, showing a definite development in the Rakes' musical style, steering away from their punkier roots and sounding even more like Pulp. Hopefully it'll allow the band to be recognised as yet another of Britpop's new-wave.

The Young Knives - Here Comes The Rumour Mill (official site)
I got very confused when I originally saw the video for this song, because my image of the Young Knives came from this promo photo. Amazing what you can do with a bit of airbrushing and a strategically placed bush, eh? So what if The Young Knives are potentially the least-rockstar-looking-rockstars since Tom Chaplin of Keane - they happen to be bloody good. With lead singer Henry's erratic vocals and angular guitar riffs, vocal harmonies and driving bass provided by pretentiously named bassist 'House of Lords' and drummer Oliver's frantic beats, 'Here Comes The Rumour Mill' is a maddening musical jaunt about gossip and paranoia. Everything about it is completely and utterly perfect...apart from the very end where the song just crashes weakly into oblivion. That's the only reason why it's not Single of the Week.

Single of the Week:
Orson - No Tomorrow (official site)
Okay, so hear me out. Very, very rarely do I lay praise on a single that's been bigged up by Jo Whiley/ridiculously overplayed on Radio 1/is likely to reach the top 5. I have a good explanation for this - I loved this song long before Radio 1. In fact, I loved this song back in August when the track was available on Life Of A Spuckle. Admittedly I'm a little more sick of it now it's everywhere (and am on a semi-boycott of Radio 1 as a result) but it's still one of the most fun party-anthem songs I've heard in the last 12 months. It's like Maroon 5 (but less wet), like Jamiroquai (but with a less extravagant taste in hats) and essentially the best bits of several different genres all mishmashed in a tasty musical smoothie. Oh, and its as catchy as hell, complete with a-cappella section...and hold on, Steve from TOTP has pinched our entire review, again! :P

And even with all of that I've still not mentioned the latest single from the wonderful Charlotte Church, the song from the On Offs that sounds like it's a nineties indie anthem, and the song from myspace favourites Panic! At The Disco that I really shouldn't like, but I do. Oh, and Jim Noir. And White Rose Movement. It's just one of those weeks...

All Releases: (ones I've heard in bold)
65 Days Of Static - Radio Revolution, Above & Beyond - Alone Tonight, Addison Industries - On The Moon, All-American Rejects - Move Along, Archie Bronson Outfit - Dart For My Sweetheart [7" Only], Babyshambles - 32nd Of December, Blind Guardian - Fly [Digipack], The Boy Least Likely To - Be Gentle With Me, Brian Jacket Letdown - Piratas/A Light Array [7" Only], Charlotte Church - Moodswings (To Come At Me Like That), Chico - It’s Chico Time, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - In This Home On Ice, Composers - A Way Of Being Free, Dan Sartain - Walk Among The Cobras (Part 1), Dios Malos - I Want It All [7" Only], Far Cries - Stepping [7" Only], The Favours - One Up On You, The Feeling - Sewn, Flip & Fill - 6 Days (On The Run), Freelance Hellraiser - Want You To Know/Pound For Pound [7" Only] , Freemasons Ft Amanda Wilson - Watchin’, Gliss - Rugby Road, Gogol Bordello - Start Wearing Purple/Sally, Graham Coxon - Standing On My Own Again, Hot Chip - Over And Over, Howling Bells - Wishing Stone, Jack Johnson - Better Together, Jim Noir - Key Of C , Jono McCleery feat. Hijera - Bet She Does/Ten Thousand Eyes [7" Only] , Keisha White - The Weakness In Me, Last Stop China Town - Just Ashes, Little Man Tate - Agent [7" Only], Loungs - I'm Gonna Take Your Girl [7" Only], Love Bites - He’s Fit, Martha Redbone - Future Street, Matchbox Romance - Monsters, McQueen - Running Out Of Things To Say, Michael Jackson - Rock With You, Mitchell Brothers - Alone With The TV, Mystery Jets - The Boy Who Ran Away, Neon Plastix - Prick Tease/Neon Invasion, On Offs - This Town/Grow Your Own [7" Only], Orasio Garcia feat. Young Musicians Aware - Outer Space [7" Only], Orson - No Tomorrow, Panic! At The Disco - I Write Sins Not Tragedies, Peven Everett - Stuck, Pussycat Dolls feat. Will-I-Am - Beep, Rakes - All Too Human, Sarah Harvey Smart - Blinding, Scary Kids Scaring Kids - Only Medicine [7" Only] , Shakira - Don't Bother, Stellastarr* - Sweet Troubled Soul, Teddy Thompson - Everybody Move It, Toreros After Ole - After Ole [7" Only], Trabant - Loving Me/Galdur [7" Only], Upper Room - All Over This Town, White Rose Movement - Girls In The Back, The Wrens - Faster Gun,Young Knives - Here Comes The Rumour Mill, Zounds - Go All The Way

What's your single of the week?