Monday, January 30, 2006

Hannah's Single of the Week (30/01/06)

It's a bit of a barren week this week, explaining the choice of re-releases and reality TV popstars. Or maybe that's just a really bad excuse?

Special Mentions:
Ashlee Simpson - Boyfriend (official site - includes video)
Ashlee's still something of an undesirable character. The incident involving a silly jig on Saturday Night Live (the joke never grows old) and the various excuses she made after being caught miming will stay imprinted on my mind for many years to come. However, even if she has returned to her blonde locks (as demonstrated on the cover) she's still trying to do that 'punk' and 'I'm so 4Real' thing, and doing it badly. Like Avril Lavigne, but worse. However, and as much as I HATE to say this, I found myself desperate to know who this song was by when I heard it on Radio 1. Namely because, for some godawful reason, I liked it. I feel dirty. Maybe it's down to the Franz-esque guitars, or the fact that the formula's a little bit like Kelly Clarkson's...but hey, a Simpson's made a half-decent pop record.

Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (official site and videos)
Inevitably this single was going to get a re-release. That's what Celebrity Big Brother's all about, right? An booster injection of fame? Not that 'You Spin Me Round' hasn't already had a second airing after originally becoming an eventual number one hit (it took four months!) back in 1985. It's 2003 release only made number 23, so it'll be interesting to see how well this does after Pete placed 5th in the final of Celebrity Big Brother. 4th place 'celeb' Preston has certainly done well out of it - a top 10 single and 'Brassbound' sitting comfortably at 22 in the album chart. Needless to say, you'll know all about this song already. It's a classic pop record, and that's all I'm going to say.

Single of the Week:
The Go! Team - Ladyflash (official site -includes video)
So, now they're property of a major label this top 75 hit from the tail end of 2004 is getting a re-release. Rightly so. Hopefully it'll go top 40, especially considering it's B-listed at Radio 1. The greatest thing about The Go! Team is they produce credible, creative music, and yet still manage to make it incredibly fun and accessible. 'Ladyflash' is the musical equivalent of eating Smarties...and its visuals are pretty multicoloured, too! As with every truly great piece of pop, I can't quite pinpoint what it is that makes it so good. It just is.

MP3: The Go! Team - The Ice Storm (live in Toronto)
Available as a freebie over the Christmas period, this live version of 'The Ice Storm' is just another example of The Go! Team's brilliance. It's an instrumental, but don't let that put you off.

All Releases:
50 Cent - Hustler’s Ambition, Angela Lawriw Ft Skinnyman - Another Day, Ashlee Simpson - Boyfriend, Ben Lee - Gamble Everything For Love, Beth Orton - Conceived, Bon Jovi - Welcome To Wherever You Are, Chris Brown Ft Juelz Santana - Run It, Choong Family - Memory Lane, Claude McLin - Jambo, Colder - To The Music, Dead Or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), Dirty Perfect - Quaterback Hairdo [7” only], The Go! Team - Ladyflash, Hazey Janes - Your Enemy, Idiot Pilot - A Day In The Life Of Poolshock, Instant Funk - Wide World Of Sports/It’s Cool [7” only], Jesse McCartney - Beautiful Soul, Layo & Bushwacka! - Life2Live, Lee Ryan - When I Think Of You, Martin Solveig - Jealousy, Micah P Hinson - Yard Of Blonde Girls, Midnight Juggernauts Ft Coronation - Raised By Wolves/Heartbleeder [7” only], Mogwai - Friend Of The Night, The Noisettes - IWE, Shady Baird - Treeology, Spida Lee - Verbal Assassin, Tiesto Ft Allure - Love We Lost, Tool - Parabola/Schism [DVD Only], Tunng - Pioneers EP, Upper Room - All Over This Town, Young People - Five Sunsets In Four Days

What's your single of the week?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Freelance Videowatch...with Elz

Freelance Videowatch:
Delays - Valentine (official site, video on Yahoo)

In the words of the illustrious Hannah, this video is "f*cking trippy". And I'm inclined to agree with her. It's so trippy, in fact, that I can't show you screenshots. Your computer wouldn't be able to handle it. Delays are back, and they're here with the force of an asteroid or something else equally forceful and explosive. Either way, the style they began with "Lost In A Melody" has grown into something new and unique for their second album. You won't be able to stop yourself from liking it.

It's a very surreal video, really. There's a tornado made of light, masked acrobats, neon skyscrapers, dancing people who are on fire and insanely kaleidoscopic effects. Light shows, swirling funfair rides... I even think I saw someone dressed as a giant rabbit, but I can't verify that as I was too busy having my mind blown. Imagine, if you will, the TARDIS wormhole with buildings, dancing ghosts, men with guitars and a disco-beat soundtrack. That's "Valentine". Band members are being spun around on enormous flowers or inside rainbows and are finally swept away at the end of the video by that darn light tornado (I hear they can be real pests). It's probably their best video to date - no, it's probably the best video ever to date.

I can't choose between the words "dream" and "nightmare" to describe this video. I suspect "drug high" would come closest, along with "weird", "creepy" and "fascinatingly bizarre". However you choose to describe it, though, you'll probably end up back with Hannah's choice. F*cking trippy.

Maybe this is what it's like in Pete Doherty's mind.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

British Female Solo Artist 2006

The Nominees:
Charlotte Church
Kate Bush
Katie Melua
KT Tunstall
Natasha Bedingfield

What I think of each:
Charlotte Church - I like Charlotte. I love her interviews, I love the way she changed her mind away from the Eva Cassidy-like act she showcased this time last year and most of all I love 'Crazy Chick'. It was a fantastic single. One of the best of 2005. Sadly, the followup singles...weren't. One truly great single does not a award-winner make. Unless it's the 'British Single' award, obviously.

Kate Bush - I get told off every time I admit I've never properly heard a Kate Bush album. However, I know a large percentage of my readership are Kate fans and they will tell me nobody deserves this award more than her.

Katie Melua - The female equivalent of James Blunt. She pleases the masses and writes rather bland 'pop' with slightly questionable lyrics. She certainly shouldn't win awards for it.

KT Tunstall - We've had Kate and Katie, and now KT. And KT, singer-songwriter beloved of the majority of the WL staff, ROCKS. She's released a great album, some fantastic singles and has been one of these artists who has creeped so slowly and gradually into the public conscience that it's hard to imagine a time when she wasn't around. This time last year, the promotional campaign for 'Black Horse And The Cherry Tree' hadn't even begun. Four singles later, she has one of the best-selling albums of the year, and she's still so modest about it all. Her infectious, cheeky personality, combined with her tunes with a strong mainstream appeal mean she definitely deserves this award.

Natasha Bedingfield - Has Natasha actually done anything this year? Is her nomination still feeding on the success of 'These Words', a single released in summer 2004? Most of her year (according to the Brits' site) has been spent in the US and her single 'I Bruise Easily' wasn't a hit that left that much of an impact, surely?

Who should win:
KT Tunstall.

Who probably will win:
I actually have no idea, but I'm guessing their name begins with 'K'.

Who, in an ideal world, should also have been nominated:
Rachel Stevens.

Comments, anyone?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hannah's Single of the Week (23/01/06)

After the hectic musical buzz of last week and the frenzy of top 10 entires it would appear the dormancy of the winter chart is over. The musical year of 2006 has well and truly begun, and it would seem the Arctic Monkeys are the stars. Needless to say, that doesn't mean the supporting cast aren't better, especially considering this week heralds the release of my first 5/5 single of 2006. Although it's not mentioned on the main post, I strongly recommend the re-release of 'Boys Will Be Boys' by The Ordinary Boys. Preston's still in the Big Brother house, so presumably that's the only form of promotion it's getting, but with the single rising to 30 this week on download sales alone it'll be interesting to see how it charts. As for Big Brother itself, I'm supporting Maggot. :)

Single of the Week:
Protocol - Where’s The Pleasure? (official site (includes video) and myspace)
Protocol's critics say that the band are a little too late in catching the wave of electro-indie. Apparently electro-indie (or is it indie-electro?) is so over. Oh really? With the due return of both The Killers and Delays, I reckon it's going to be as big as ever. Last year The Bravery flopped, miserably. So what? That was simply because they didn't have enough good tunes. Protocol are completely the opposite. They have heaps of them. Heaps and heaps and heaps. 'Where's The Pleasure?' is just one of them. Like 'She Waits For Me' (one of my favourites of 2005) it's packed with pure adrenalin rush-inducing energy, an epic chorus, an eighties flavour, glossy production, a fab bassline and an irressistable singalong melody. Like Maximo Park, my only point of criticism is when it comes to the subject of the lead singer's hair.

Special Mention:
Alex Parks - Honesty (official site and video)
Prepare yourselves for a surprise. This is a jaunty little acoustic number and, as far as Alex is concerned, you could even consider it 'lively'. It's catchy too, and is probably the last thing you'd expect from Miss Parks, aside from the identically named album's 'hidden' track, 'Tail And All'. Sadly for the fans of the upbeat, it isn't indicative of the album as a whole. 'Honesty' (the single) is a bouncy singalong with a distinctive country vibe and while it doesn't showcase Alex's vocal talents as well as her ballads, it's still clear she's one of the more interesting voices to emerge from reality TV.


Things that aren't that great:
Be Your Own Pet - Let’s Get Sandy
There's a lot of hype about Be Your Own Pet. Apparently, they're 'a great new band' and 'one of the most promising new acts for 2006'. Whatever. I watched them on the TV at some festival and thought 'this is a load of thrashy nonsense'. I heard them on record...and they're exactly the same. What is so great about them, exactly?

LMC Ft Rachel McFarlane - Get What You Give
After making number one last year with 'Take Me To The Clouds Above', LMC are back with this rather limp dance version of one of my favourite nineties indie anthems. It takes away all the charm, excitement and fun of the New Radicals original and McFarlane's vocals just don't suit the song.

Starsailor - This Time

I know Starsailor are a band hardly blessed with any sense of originality, but 'This Time' wins the award for the sheer amount of previous Starsailor material crammed into one song. There are at least THREE points where this sounds exactly the same as something they've released before. The video also has the most terrible and predictable plotline, ever. After the majesty 'In The Crossfire', I'm decidedly unimpressed.

All Releases: (ones I've heard in bold)
A-Ha - Analogue (All I Want), Alex Parks - Honesty, Be Your Own Pet - Let’s Get Sandy, Beck - Hell Yes [7” only], Blondie Vs The Doors - Rapture Riders [12” only], Children Of Bodom - In Your Face, Circlesquare - Fight Sounds EP, Cut Copy - Going Nowhere, Deep Elem - Lost In The Woods [7” only], Don Fardon - Belfast Boy, Ferry Corsten - Fire, Fickle Public - Just Like I Got Used To Saying Courtney Cox Arquette, Infadels - Can’t Get Enough, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Ramblin’ Man, Joan As Police Woman - My Gurl Sweet Thing [7” only], Kris Drever - Beads & Feathers [7” only], LMC Ft Rachel McFarlane - You Get What You Give, The Maybes - Stop, Look & Listen [7” only], Merz - Postcard From A Dark Star [7” only], Moby - Slipping Away, Motorettes - Super Heartbeats, Nightwish - Sleeping Sun, The Ordinary Boys - Boys Will Be Boys, Pharrell - Angel, Playgroup - Front 2 Back, Porno - Music Power, Protocol - Where’s The Pleasure, Quantic Soul Orchestra - End Of The Road/San Sebastien Strut [7” only], Richard Hawley - Just Like The Rain, Rogue Wave - Publish My Love, Sam Brown - Ukulele & Voice EP, Seamus Haji Ft Emanuel - Take Me Away, Shortwave Set - Repeat To Fade, Starsailor - This Time, Steve Harvey Ft Cockney Rebel - Last Goodbye, Sugarmonkey - So Far Too Late, Young Jeezy Ft Akon - Soul Survivor, Your Vegas - Flybuzz

What's your single of the week?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Lewis's single to avoid (23/01/06)

Starsailor - 'This Time'
I'm concerned for Starsailor. They've always struck me as fairly inoffensive types; thus, I have something of a soft spot for them. Even though they are from Wigan. You could do a lot worse than Starsailor - after all, they've released three moderately good singles in the shape of 'Fever', 'Alcoholic' and 'Silence Is Easy'. My main gripe with this is that it displays absolutely no sense of progression. Five years on from 'Fever', and they're still treading water like they always were, with billowing indie anthems that are good for opening Hollyoaks with, but not much use for anything else. The Starsailor template is now too worn and too throwaway to be of any merit. If this was a school report, it would read: 'could do better'.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hannah's Single of the Week (16/01/05)

Arctic Monkeys - When The Sun Goes Down (official site and video)
So, here it is. The week where the Arctic Monkeys prove they're not a flash-in-the-pan one hit wonder. There must be a huge amount of albums pre-ordered due to the sheer success of 'I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor', but the hype and promotion for this followup seem to have completely passed me by. That said, I only heard 'That's My Goal' for the first (and, I may safely say, last) time over the weekend and this single (from the midweeks) looks like it's about to knock that one off the top spot.
Expectations are high for the album, and the hype is justified. Apparently. Anything that's hyped up, I tend to stay well clear of, and neither love nor hate it, for fear of my own judgement being influenced by other people. It's a nasty thing, is hype.
The thing is...I think I'm starting to like the Arctic Monkeys. 'When The Sun Goes Down' is incredibly catchy, filled with chaotic guitars, a change of pace and even has a confusing 'story' video. While, as yet, I don't think they're Britain's best new band and completely deserving of the hype bestowed upon them, this is still a good song.

Belle and Sebastian - Funny Little Frog (official site and video)
I think it's impossible not to like Belle & Sebastian. There's something about their music that's so incredibly...likeable. There's also something about their attitude to their album being leaked online that makes them likeable, too. They're not kicking up a fuss. They're aware that maybe it could even be a great form of promotion. Thank goodness somebody's got their head screwed on correctly, eh? Elz reviewed the video earlier this week, and I can safely say the music that accompanies it is just as fabulous as the visuals. I could take it and plunge into a lengthy lyrical and instrumental analysis, but that's just silly. Great music speaks for itself, so I'll just say the intrumentation is great, the melody is catchy and if the album is all as good as this, everyone should be buying it and breaking B&S into the mainstream. Speaking of mainstream - it's heading for the top 10. Marvellous!

All Releases: (ones I've heard in bold)
Belle & Sebastian - Funny Little Frog, Beyonce Ft Slim Thug - Check On It, Cat Power - Greatest [7” only], Clearlake - Good Clean Fun [7” only], Don Fardon - Belfast Boy, Early Years - All Ones And Zeroes, Hi Tack - Say Say Say, Nostalgia 77 Octet - Freedom [7” only], Notorious BIG - Nasty Girl, Scary Kids Scaring Kids - Only Medicine [7” only], Secret Machines - Alone, Jealous & Stoned [12” only], Sol Seppy - Move [7” only], Son Of Dork - Eddie’s Song, South - A Place In Displacement, Sunshine Underground - Commercial Breakdown, Sway - Little Derek, Test-Icicles - What’s Your Damage?, Thee Unstrung - Who Runs The Show, Tiga - Good As Gold [12” only], Tina Dico - Warm Sand, Will Young - All Time Love

What's your single of the week?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

British Male Solo Artist 2006

The Nominees:
Antony and the Johnsons
Ian Brown
James Blunt
Robbie Williams
Will Young

What I think of each:
Antony and the Johnsons - The inclusion of the 'and the Johnsons' bit makes me worry about the 'solo' bit, the fact he's lived almost all his life in America makes me worry about the 'British' bit and as for the 'male' bit...I'm sure a few people would take the opportunity to deliberate that one too. There's no doubt, however, that Antony has created some incredibly lush and gorgeous music. I just can't stand his voice.

Ian Brown - Last year Robbie Williams was apparently not eligible for nomination in this category due to him only releasing a Greatest Hits, and not a whole album-worth of new material. Now, unless I'm missing a trick here, the only new 'album' release that has come from Ian Brown in the last 12 months is his own Greatest Hits effort. Unfair?

James Blunt - Regular readers will know exactly what I (along with Lewis) think of James Blunt. Next please.

Robbie Williams - He's Brits eligible again, thankfully, and no matter what the majority of the critics say, I'm far too much of a fan to pretend to be snobbish about him. I did absolutely LOATHE 'Tripping' at first, but I've come to like it, along with the rest of the 'Intensive Care' album. I'm also off to see him as an 18th birthday present (thanks Mum!) .

Will Young - Here's one of those nominations that seems to crop up every year, and rightfully so. While I'm not one to go purchasing Will's records, I thought both 'Leave Right Now' and the Brit-award-winning 'Your Game' were marvellous singles, and his latest release 'Switch It On' was a worthy followup. He's probably not going to win, considering who else is nominated, but it'd be nice to see him win the prize, just for a change.

Who should win:
Robbie Williams.

Who probably will win:
Usually, if Robbie is nominated, he's practically guaranteed to win it, but the mass backing of James Blunt means that this award could go either way.

Who, in an ideal world, should also have been nominated:
EDIT: Patrick Wolf! My humblest apologies, but I forgot because Patrick elevates himself to something resembling God status. In my head, anyway.

Comments, anyone?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Lewis's single to avoid (16/01/06)

Test-Icicles - 'What's Your Damage?'
The band with the worst name in history return, with a single that befits their juvenile nom de plume. This is one of the most asinine things you're likely to hear this year - terrible, tuneless cod-metal providing a backdrop for lyrics that are spectacularly dreadful; lyrics written by graduates of the rhyming dictionary sixth form college (around/ground/try/why/say/way). Or possibly by monkeys. 'Did you ever think / That all the things you say / Sound so naive?' whine the Testicles. They might be wise to answer that question themselves, for this whole sorry mess is so illiterate it'll make your brain bleed. What's my damage? This song is.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Freelance Videowatch...with Elz

Freelance Videowatch 'Shall we roll around on the floor?'
Belle & Sebastian - Funny Little Frog (official site, video at

I'll admit, I've been looking forwards to this video immensely, being a massive Belle & Sebastian fan. The first single from the band's epic seventh album (The Life Pursuit), "Funny Little Frog" is classic B&S, and thoroughly enjoyable for all.

The vid'No, my love, I think we shall dance like loons.'eo consists of a couple performing a complex dance routine around a fairly normal flat, and indeed part of it involves spinning around a comfortable-looking sofa, flopping over it and a bed. They also roll around on the floor, throw each other around and are genuinely violently loving. The one thing that is clear in this video is the obvious affection the characters (if that's the right word) have for each other. She even dresses him up in a hat so he can go out and have a fight with some men, again i'Of course, dar-- darling?'n the dancing style where you can clearly see about a foot of space between the fist and the face. Still, at least no one got hurt.

Like most Belle & Sebastian songs, this has a theme of bittersweet love. In fact, I think the girl is either dead or has been sucked into a photograph by the end of the video. However, due to the lack of a "s'Oh, bugger all, she's in the photo again.'chloop!" sound effect, I think it's safe to say she's dead. Thank you for ruining the giggle I was having at the dancing by killing off the pretty lady, Belle & Sebastian. I still love you.

Friday, January 13, 2006

WL Does The Brits 2006

There's a large part of me that doesn't want to take the Brit Awards seriously. The fact that James Blunt is leading the nominations count (he's up for five) bothers me..lots. Let's hope he does a Craig David and goes home with none, shall we? As ever, I'm also bothered by the sheer lack of variety in the list of acts nominated. It's as if the panel compiled a list of the most talked-about bands of 2005 (missing out a few obvious candidates along the way) and tried to see how many categories they could fit each one into.

Surely a few lesser-known souls are equally deserving of some of the awards, especially considering the nominees for some of them (moreorless) seem to be the same year after year after year. What about Patrick Wolf? Rufus Wainwright? Maximo Park? Bright Eyes? The Rakes? I'm rather surprised, too, that Bloc Party didn't crop up ANYWHERE. It pains me to see nominations based on quantity sold than quality of songs, even though I know that's the way it's always going to be.

That's the thing though - the Brits is Britain's biggest music awards show. The public, in general, care about it more than most others, so why not give the masses what they want? If a bunch of unknowns were nominated every time, who, except the indie kids, would be watching?

So, as we near to the awards ceremony itself, and even with my disgust at some of the nominations, I do care, and I'll be running a commentary on who's up for what, who I'd like to win, who I think will, who should have been nominated and who definitely shouldn't.

Should be fun.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hannah's Single of the Week (09/01/06)

Since the integration of mp3 download sales into the singles charts just under a year ago, nothing particularly spectacular has happened. The longevity of certain singles may have increased, but that's about it. Until now. As Christmas came, music lovers all over the UK unwrapped their iPods and searched for tracks to load on, it was inevitable that the biggest hits of the last 12 months would come to dominate the charts once again. So, while having multiple entries from Kelly Clarkson, Kaiser Chiefs and several others in the top 75 isn't necessarily a bad thing, part of me wants a bit of movement, a bit of change and some new music.

So, is there anything exciting on offer this week? Sadly, the answer has to be 'not really'. Or, alternatively, 'there is, but managing to hear it in the first place in a task in itself'. There are several acts so indie I haven't even heard of them, let alone heard them, and then a few more coming to the end of their promotional campaign for their current album so the singles haven't been given as much of a push. Those acts aside, heere's what has made it to my eardrums:

Jose Gonzalez - 'Heartbeats' (official site and the Sony Bravia ad)
Gentle, soothing, acoustic...and probably set to be huge. The general public should lap this up, especially considering it's the soundtrack to that Sony Bravia advert. Y'know, the one with the bouncy balls. It's just one of those songs that has 'lovely' written all over it. Those who adore anything remotely delicate and dreamy will no doubt adore this.

The Kooks - 'If You Don't Love Me' (official site - includes video)
The TOTP website has The Kooks down as the new Supergrass. I'm not quite so sure. They're missing that 'something' that makes me love anything and everything Gaz and the boys churn out. That said, I can see where they're coming from - those punctuated chord stabs, two-part harmonies, lively stage presence, the amount of hair...and you know what? I do like this song!

Mark Owen - 'Hail Mary' (official site and video clip)
'From the Albert Hall to the Uni Ball - how the mighty fall', 'what was once before again may be' and 'everything will come around' - it would seem when Mark Owen wrote one of my favourite pop singles of last year ('Believe In The Boogie') he knew something we didn't. With Take That reforming for a tour and once again re-establishing themselves in the world of music (the release listings hint at a single being on the way) it'll be interesting to see just how well this single performs. Now, I've only heard a clip, but it's similar fare to 'Believe In The Boogie' - bouncy, major-chord pop. The only drawback, as ever, is Mark's voice. He's just not a natural singer. Part of me wonders if he'd be better doing a Gary Barlow and writing for other artists. His songs are good enough, after all.

Richard Ashcroft - 'Break The Night With Colour' (official site - includes video)
After his triumphant Live8 performance, he's back. Lewis has slammed the single. Me? I don't think that badly of it, just the man himself. If the music truly lived up to the ego, then yes, it's worth praise. However, I fail to find anything exciting, moving, new or special about it.

Texas - 'Sleep' (official site - includes video)
The involvement of Peter Kay undoubtedly makes a good video, but it can't do that much for the song itself, surely? I've never been the biggest fan of Texas - they've been going since the tail-end of the eighties and while many of their singles are memorable, the only one I can recall ever liking was the commercial failure (and, if I remember rightly, Guy Chambers collaboration) 'I'll See It Through'. That said, 'Sleep' certainly has more of a hook than its predecessor, 'Getaway' and that fact that it's a duet adds an extra dimension to the song. Nothing that impressive, though.

New releases:
Al Haca - Mindgames/Day Break [7” only], Coldcut - Man In A Garage, Crimea - Lottery Winners On Acid, Discharge Ft MG15 - Split [7” only], Hoboken - Beauty Queen, House Headz - Stella, Jose Gonzales - Heartbeats, The Kooks - If You Don’t Love Me, Mark Owen - Hail Mary, Mylo - Muscle Cars, Queens Of The Stone Age - Burn The Witch, Rammstein - Rosenrot, Red Carpet - Alright, Richard Ashcroft - Break The Night With Colour, Shy FX Ft T Power - Everyday [12” only], Soul Central - Need You Now Stunt - Raindrops, Sunblock - I’ll Be Ready, Texas - Sleep, Thievery Corporation - Time We Lost Our Way [7” only], Trinity - Like The Sun, Wolfmother - Minds Eye [7” only]

Monday, January 09, 2006

Lewis's single to avoid (09/01/06)

Richard Ashcroft - Break The Night With Colour
Lest we forget, Richard Ashcroft had a couple of hits in the nineties. So he is possibly most famous for strutting down a street, clattering into pedestrians, whilst backed by a song that tea-leaved a sample from the Rolling Stones' 'The Last Time'. As a result of this, that fairly mundane elegy, Bittersweet Symphony, is now owned by Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. I'm led to suspect that they acquired Ashcroft's muse in that acrimonious legal battle. Like Richards and Jagger, Ashcroft is now older and sadly insignificant, left to plod-plod-plod away on efforts like this. Occasionally he'll writhe out an "Ooh!" that calls to mind the elder statesman of the Stones, albeit in a slowed-down, plod-plod-plodding fashion. Middle age doesn't suit Ashcroft. He should know that we tired of this crap years ago.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Elz's Albums of 2005

Elz's Albums of 2005

Goldfrapp - Supernature (Mute) (official site)
Goldfrapp's third album, and Alison and Will are back with more bizarre tunes to annoy or enthrall you (and sometimes both). It's possible that this is the album which really crystallises the Goldfrapp sound, particularly in songs such as "Ooh La La" (the first single) and "Satin Chic". While there are some disappointing tracks on the album ("Slide In" and "Koko", in my opinion), this is probably the album you should buy if you're a new Goldfrapp fan. If you're already a fan, Supernature might disappoint you a little, but there are enough redeeming features to make it worth your while.
Download: Ride A White Horse, Satin Chic

Sons and Daughters - The Repulsion Box (Domino) (official site)
Foot-tapping beats and barely comprehensible lyrics, Sons and Daughters have brought their own brand of indie-rock down to the lowlands with their second album, The Repulsion Box. Adele Bethel and Scott Paterson's chemistry makes the dark tone of their music positively jump out and grab you by the throat with every snarling lyric, and they're well-complimented by David Gow and Ailidh Lennon, whose musical talents seem to stop at nothing. As I mentioned before, this band play dark music, with dark vocals, dark lyrics, and a mandolin. Yep, we've got evil-sounding folk music, and you'd never believe it could sound so good.
Download: Red Receiver, Taste The Last Girl

KT Tunstall - Eye To The Telescope (Relentless) (official site)
I don't understand people who say that KT Tunstall is just another of those bland singer-songwriters, because ever since I first heard of her, it was undoubtedly clear that she wasn't. The media pick of her first album always seems to include the upbeat "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree", but many people don't look past this one song to the rest of the album which carried itself quite well before Black Horse was even included on it. Every single track on Eye To The Telescope is clearly directly from KT's heart, and she's fortunate enough to have the talent to show what she has to the world.
Download: Under The Weather (album version), Universe & U

Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better (Domino) (official site)
It's almost unbelievable that Franz Ferdinand can release a second album of equal quality to the first within eighteen months, but they've done it. Written primarily whilst touring, recorded at Alex Kapranos' Scottish farmhouse and mixed in New York, this is their international album. It's more emotional, too, with songs about significant others ("Eleanor Put Your Boots On", "Fade Together"), but retaining the sharpness of their debut in other tracks ("Do You Want To", "This Boy"). My personal favourite is the new electronic sound they're developing, as seen in "Outsiders" - an updated version of "The Only Difference", a solo project by Kapranos.
Download: You're The Reason I'm Leaving, Outsiders

Ladytron - Witching Hour (Island) (official site)
Without a doubt, Ladytron have reached their peak with this fantastic third offering from the Liverpool-based, Kraftwerk-inspired band. The album is haunting and perfect, from the eerie tones of "Beauty*2" to the hypnotic break up of "International Dateline" and then on to the stalkerish "Destroy Everything You Touch", Witching Hour is wild, untamed and chills you to the bone in the best possible way. I've only got one problem with this record, and that's the lack of vocals from Bulgarian Mira Aroyo; while Helen Marnie's voice is fine alone, together they make Ladytron something even more special. You need this album.
Download: The Last One Standing, Beauty*2

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hannah's Singles of the Year - The Shortlist (Part E)

This is the final (and slightly abbreviated, since 2005 is well and truly over!) installment of my Singles of the Year 'shortlist'. After constructing it all, and writing about each single it made me realise - I just cannot pick a top 5! So, simply consider them all my favourites, especially the ones that got 5/5. I'm looking forward to some even better music to be on offer in 2006.

Franz Ferdinand - Do You Want To?
UK Chart Peak: 4
What I rate it now: 5/5
- official site -

Tony Christie (ft. Peter Kay) - (Is This The Way To) Amarillo?
UK Chart Peak: 1
What I rate it now: 5/5
- official site -

My Chemical Romance - I'm Not Okay (I Promise)
UK Chart Peak: 19
What I rate it now: 5/5
- official site -

Idlewild - I Understand It
UK Chart Peak: 32
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- official site -

The Kills - No Wow
UK Chart Peak: 53
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- official site -

The Decemberists - 16 Military Wives
UK Chart Peak: Did not chart :(
What I rate it now: 5/5
- official site -

Josh Rouse - Winter In The Hamptons
UK Chart Peak: Did not chart :(
What I rate it now: 5/5
- official site -

The Strokes - Juicebox
UK Chart Peak: 5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- official site -

Monday, January 02, 2006

Hannah's Single of the Week (02/01/06)

Happy New Year, everybody! Sadly it's another slow week this week (although next week the singles releases are back in full force - hurrah!) but thankfully there are a couple of promising singles to buy along with whatever albums in the sales that may be draining cash from your pocket!

Single of the Week:
Editors - Munich (official site - contains video)
Having successfully re-released 'Bullets', it's the turn of the band's second top 75 (and breakthrough) hit, 'Munich', to get a second shot at the upper reaches of the charts, Kaiser Chiefs syle. The fact that chart sales are slow and not much else is on offer may even cause the band to break into the top 20, as they did with 'Blood', although it's still sad that another song hasn't had the chance to make it as a single. They've squeezed five releases out of three songs, for goodness sake! That said, this 'British Interpol' are one of those acts that have grown on me over the past year, especially after seeing them live supporting Franz Ferdinand. If you've heard 'Blood' and 'Bullets', 'Munich' is essentially more of the same. That's the thing with Editors - if you like what you've heard already, you'll like this. If you don't, you won't. There's not a lot of originality here, but to my ears it's a pretty good tune.

Special Mention:
Supergrass - Fin (official site - VIDEO ADDED THIS WEEK!!!)
You'll only be finding 'Fin' on a 7" single, this week. It's a shame really, because while I adore the new, 're-invented' Supergrass, and 'Road To Rouen' is a fabulous album...the public haven't exactly lapped it up. Part of me wants to blame the slightly strange singles choices, and there has been nothing more of a strange single choice than 'Fin'. It's the closing track on the album and is good enough as an album track. It's poignant, pretty and unusually delicate, but it just doesn't make an impact in the same way as other potential singles, 'Roxy', 'Road To Rouen' and 'Kick In The Teeth' - all of which are truly STUNNING. I've said it before and I'll say it again - Supergrass really need to release something that's a little more upbeat, or a little more epic, or the British public will forget about them completely. As much as I love Supergrass, slow lullabies with echoing vocals and not much else going on just won't cut it in the long term.

All Major Releases:
Aaron Smith Ft Luvli - Dancin’, Editors - Munich, Louis XIV - Pledge Of Allegiance [7” only], Naughty Boy - Phatbeach (I’ll Be Ready), Simply Red - Something Got Me Started/A Song For You, Supergrass - Fin [7” only]

What's your single of the week?