Archive | July, 2010

Brandon Florwers ‘Crossfire’

31 Jul

The new Brandon Flowers single has been getting mixed reviews, but I personally love it and I can see it going top 10. The video is out and It stars Charlize Theron, Brandon and lots of explosions.

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Chase & Status – ‘Let You Go’

30 Jul

I like Chas & Status. I like Jeremy Kyle. Therefore I like this video.

Richard Ashcroft ‘United Nations Of Sound’ – Review

29 Jul

So The Verve reformed only to split up again last year. In between they made a very average album, a decent single and played a few lacklustre headline shows. If one good thing came out of the reunion it’s that you were reminded just how many classic singles they released back when they were great. A bad thing about the reunion ending is that it means we will get yet more self-righteous solo albums from Richard Ashcroft – the first of which has just been released.

The album begins with a swarm of strings that can’t help but remind you of ‘Bittersweet Symphony’. It’s a double-edged sword, the opening, because on one hand it reminds you just what Richard Ashcroft is capable of at his best but at the same time it’s pretty damn obvious that ‘Are You Ready’ isn’t even in the same league as that song. It’s as if Ashcroft is putting his medals on display, only the medals are nearly two decades old and just remind you that he hasn’t won anything in a long time.

The hip hop beat featured prominently on ‘America’ will make both rock fans and hip hop fans cringe and Ashcroft’s bizarre delivery (of terrible lyrics) adds insult to injury. The most bizarre part though is the fact that by the end I was starting to enjoy the song, it’s strangely likeable. Less forgiving though is Ascroft’s attempts to be a soul singer on ‘This Thing Called Life’ – he is naturally a soulful singer which makes it even more frustrating that he strains his voice so much on this song. Again, this is actually a pretty nice song, it’s just a shame it was dealt with in such a heavy-handed manner; we all know Ascroft is capable of stunning subtly (‘The Drugs Don’t Work’) but it seems like he has forgotten that.

‘Beatitudes’ is as bad as it’s title (‘wow that must be bad’ you’re probably thinking – it is!), ‘How Deep is Your Man’ is actually alright (despite another terrible title) and ‘She Brings The Music’ is probably the nicest thing on here. The strings on the album are beautifully arranged by Benjamin Wright,the man who has worked with Michael Jackson, Outkast, Justin Timberlake, Quincy Jones and The Temptations – it’s a shame then that far too often the rest of the production sounds like a swamp with tacky r&b drum beats on top.

This isn’t wholly bad, it does have some redeemable features. It aspires to be such a grandiose album that you can’t help but admire Ashcroft’s ambition. But as is often the case, the higher you aim the further there is to fall, and here Ashcroft and the band fall pretty hard. ‘She Brings The Music’ proves that he can still write brilliant songs when he writes as himself, but most of this sounds like a bad imitation; He imitates a rapper, soul superstar, blues legend and even of himself – or the old him. ‘United Nations of Sound’ is nearly an hour-long and the time drags for at least 45 of those minutes. It’s a mess but at least it’s a spectacular and fairly joyous mess, I’ve heard worse bad records in my day – if that makes sense!

5/10

The Neat

29 Jul

An exciting new British(!) band – enjoy because they are a rare breed this year. Why can’t we have more energetic post-punk stuff? It seems all the best new music of the last twelve months has been cheery pop from overseas – lets get angry England!!!

Best Coast ‘Crazy For You’ – Review

27 Jul

Best Coast first caught my attention with the song ‘The Sun Was High (And So Was I) which I thought was one of the best things released last year. It was one of several singles that the band put out over the last twelve months, in the lead up to their debut album ‘Crazy For You’, which is finally released this week.

It doesn’t differ much from those early singles – this is straightforward pop music played with passion and energy. ‘Boyfriend’ and ‘Crazy For You’ set the tone early one with their sun kissed melodies and heartbroken lyrics and the band rarely divert from this classic formula. Twelve songs long, the album clocks in at barely half an hour and not a second is spared for so much as a guitar solo or reflective lyric. Best Coast live in the moment and for the moment, which is partly why this sounds like the diary of a typical teenage girl. Sample lyric; ‘I wish he was my boyfriend/ I wish he was my boyfriend/ I would love him till the very end/ but instead he’s just a friend’

At the same time it’s nostalgic music that harks back to an age that probably only existed on a hollywood sound stage, an age of Californian girls and long days spent on the beach. It could easily have been a cutesy pastiche but actually it’s pulled off very stylishly and it all sounds convincingly genuine. The grungy feedback and lo-fi undertones make this a more up to date and dynamic pop album than many of Best Coast’s rivals have made. ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Bratty B’ are two songs in particular with a spunky attitude that recalls Sonic Youth and The Ramones. Girl group harmonies and fuzzy guitars are hardly revelations if they are used effectively (as they are on this album) they still make the best noise known to man. There isn’t a song on here I would call a classic (except perhaps the bonus track ‘When I’m With You’) but this is a very likeable and refreshing debut album.

Best Coast have been a consistent pleasure over the past 10 months, their steady stream of singles certainly kept me happy and now we have an album that is equally as captivating. It isn’t deep, meaningful or particularly imaginative, but neither is it superficial, fake or boring. ‘Crazy For You’ doesn’t disappoint in the respect that it is a hugely entertaining record that I will probably listen to for as long as the sun stays out this summer, and maybe beyond.

8.5/10

Wanna Go Surfing?

25 Jul

Mercury Prize Shortlist 2010

22 Jul

The Mercury prize shortlist has been revealed and it’s a predictably random collection of albums from the last twelve months. There are a few obvious choices (The XX, Wild Beasts, Dizzee Rascal, Mumford and Sons) and a few that might surprise you (Paul Weller, I Am Kloot, villagers). The XX should win in my opinion and I reckon they probably will – I’ve been right most years in the past (last year being a shocking exception!!) and I couldn’t think of it going to a more deserving band.

Here is a list of nominees and the odds

Dizzee Rascal – Tongue N’ Cheek (4/1)
The xx – xx (4/1)
Paul Weller – Wake Up the Nation (6/1)
Corinne Bailey Rae – The Sea (6/1)
Mumford and Sons – Sigh No More (6/1)
Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can (6/1)
Foals – Total Life Forever (8/1)
Wild Beasts – Two Dancers (8/1)
Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions (8/1)
Villagers – Becoming a Jackal (10/1)
Kit Downes Trio – Golden (10/1)
I Am Kloot – Sky at Night (10/1)