March 28, 2006
Dog Box BOX6: 13th February 2006
1. Largs Hum
"If you sit at the water's edge, and you stare out into the abyss, you will find yourself listening, you will find your hand forming a fist"
"Every time it rains, you're here in my head, like the sun coming out"
'Largs Hum' is an anthemic electro song with a guy (Rodney Relax) listing Scottish place names in the background. Musically it reminds me of Depeche Mode but with soaring vocals. The lyrics seem to be searching for some indefinable shadow at the back of the mind. Is it god, is it the government listening in or is it just a nagging doubt?
'Cloudbusting' is a brilliant cover of Kate Bush's single. Swimmer One's vocalist Andrew Eaton duets with guest female singer Ora Bissett to stunning effect. Once again it has an electro production that brings an interesting harder edge to the song. But it still retains that humable sound. This should be ranked alongside The Futureheads' version of 'Hounds Of Love' as a great Kate cover.
This is also available free from Dog Box records.
How Could Something Like That Be Love?
Talk Me Down From 20000 Ft
Dog Box Records Website / Swimmer One Website / Swimmer One MySpace Page
March 27, 2006
Dog Box BOX7: 13th February 2006
1. Blue Skies
"You're the Davenport docker dear, I feel you pulsing when I'm near"
2. Rainy Skies
"I still loved you even though your eyes matched the colour of a rainy sky"
This sounds like it was made by a bunch of kids who've just discovered a room full of instruments and decided to record a pop record. 'Blue Skies' bounces, sighs, plays banjo and sings refrains of "I love you". What more could you want from a pop song. 'Rainy Skies' still sounds pretty summery even if the lyrics are a bit more winter. It ends with the line "It's time to say goodbye" just like a kids show. Actually I think it's time to press play again.
This is available free from Dog Box records (Home of the brilliant 'Luxembourg').
Dog Box Records Website
March 26, 2006
White Heat OPE011: 20th March 2006
1. How It All Went Wrong
"I'll just get a drink or maybe, another fifteen"
2. Chapter Two (Notting Hill Carnival Revenge Mix)
"I stand there staring, she just wears what she's wearing"
'How It All Went Wrong' is like a duet between two Kevin Rowlands. It's also reminds me of the kind of thing that Vincent Vincent & The Villains are doing. I loved their first single 'Reunion / Much Too Much' but this is something else. There's an amazing bit about two-thirds through where it all stops and builds back up again. There's repeated shouts of "best clothes for the discotheque", "Drinking brandy" and "Well I don't fuckin' care".
'Chapter Two' is a mix of military drums and mock operatic vocals. Not having heard the original I couldn't comment on whether the remix is an improvement or not. It sounds like the vocals of at least three different songs have been mistakenly layered over the top. This band has taken their name with pride and I commend them for it.
Les Incompétents Website / Les Incompétents MySpace Page
March 25, 2006
Dress Up/Fiction 9877351: 20th March 2006
1. Gold Lion
“There was a crowd of seeds, inside, outside, I must have done a dozen each”
2. Let Me Know (Demo)
“Love’s gonna let me know, like the day you took me home”
3. Gold Lion (Diplo Remix)
“Gold lion’s gonna tell me where the light is”
‘Gold Lion’ at first seems strange because it’s so different to the last albums stuff. But you keep listening to it and it just snakes it’s way into your brain and under your skin. To me it seems to be about drugs and the war on terror. Really the lyrics are quite abstract and open to any interpretation. It’s a swirling mix of acoustic guitars, heavy drums, sound effects and Nick Zinner’s outstanding electric guitar parts.
Production wise ‘Let Me Know’ is a more straightforward affair though no less charming. Here Karen O reminds us of the quite beauty that she has previously shown on the last songs on ‘Fever To Tell’.
The Diplo remix speeds things up and adds hand claps. Diplo brings some of the same sort of sounds that he created for M.I.A. on ‘Bucky Done Gun’. It has a great oriental feel to it.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Website / Yeah Yeah Yeahs MySpace Page
March 25, 2006
Mute CDMUTE362 / MUTE362: 20th March 2006
1. Born Under A Bad Sign (Single Version)
“You’re laying in the afterglow and there’s something that she wants to know”
2. Dark Road
“My companion is the stars”
3. I’m Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail
“I’m not in your town to stay, said the lady old and gray”
‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ is one of the highlights of Richard Hawley’s brilliant ‘Coles Corner’ album. This single version however is awful. I’ve compared the two versions and they aren’t actually that different. It’s amazing how a whole songs atmosphere can be destroyed with some upbeat drums. Lethargic and wistful lines like “Sleeping late in the afternoon, playing your guitar” seem absurd when coupled with this new bouncy backing.
Fortunately, as usual with the singles lifted from ‘Coles Corner’ it’s accompanied by brilliant b-sides. ‘Dark Road’ is a country flavoured song that describes sleeping out beneath the stars. Although not explicit in the lyrics, to me it conjures up images of the old west at midnight
‘I’m Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail’ is a cover of an old Karl Davis & Harty Taylor song. It tells the story of a broken and dying mother making one last attempt to set her son straight. Any Johnny Cash fans still in mourning may find the man in black reborn in this song. Forget the A-Side, buy the 7″ for this B-Side. Judging by this, a dark and brooding country album could be the next step for Mr Hawley.
The Nights Are Cold
I’m On Nights
It’s Over Love
Richard Hawley’s Website
March 25, 2006
XL Recordings XLS225CD: 13th March 2006
“We are adventuring, we are adventurers and behind the pool we ran into trouble”
2. Ouch (Demo)
“They’re on the streets with their eyes of hunger, it’s a disease, it’s a death to one another”
3. We Will Vacation, You Can Be My Parasol (Demo)
“Play my piano I will lend you a hand, what aggravates you will be my demand”
This tune will be stuck in your head for ages. The bass on ‘Adventure’ sounds like the low rumble of a motorbike. It sounds quite a lot like ‘Purple’ by Whirlwind Heat. As with all their songs the lyrics are almost incomprehensible. ‘Ouch’ borrows the famous tag-line from ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ to describe the zombie like masses. ‘We Will Vacation, You Can Be My Parasol’ sounds like a great Pixies song.
After impressive debut single ‘Damn Dam Leash’, the other two singles were disappointing. ‘Adventure’ restores the faith.
We Will Vacation, You Can Be My Parasol
Be Your Own Pet Website / Be Your Own Pet MySpace Page
March 25, 2006
Transgressive TRANS022CD / TRANS022 / TRANS022X: 13th March 2006
“A healthy man with a healthy plan, my kids will think I’m a healthy dad”
2. I Am The Driver
“I broke down, like a new machine does”
3. Pineapple Girl
“Sweetness is the notion that you’ll take me when you leave”
4. Tendency (Hot Chip Remix)
“Its clear that we don’t breathe the same air”
‘Tendency’ is like a fantastic art-rock version of an early Nirvana song with Robert Smith on vocals. Lyrically it isn’t quite as good as the last single ‘Demons’, but that did set the bar very high. ‘I Am The Driver’ has the bouncy pop sound of ‘Solsbury Hill’ or something by The Polyphonic Spree. It’s got loud thumping drums and beautiful piano, it could have easily been the A-Side. ‘Pineapple Girl’ sounds like a lost Smiths song in places. The Hot Chip remix starts off sounding a bit dull but picks up pace towards the end.
I thought that ‘Demons’ was so much better than their first single ‘Isabelle’ and I wondered if it was just a one off. After hearing this it’s clear that Battle have a lot more going for them than just that song.
Feel The Same (Jeremy Warmsley’s Evil Words Remix)
Battle Website / Battle Fansite / Battle MySpace Page
March 14, 2006
Rough Trade RTRADCDS265 / RTRADSCDX265 / RTRADS265: 20th February 2006
“New Orleans ‘ll tremble tonight, with bleeding hearts and swaying lights”
2. Someday Soon You’re Gonna Happen
“The trees are, my cathedral”
3. Shadows On Our School
“Speak in tongues, background noise, cracking up”
4. Talking Me Down
“I’m listing slowly, no peace in this heat”
5. Valentine (Freeform Five Remix)
“Just tell me the truth, it makes me feel better”
Delays had already ditched the partly successful rock sound with the one off single ‘Lost In A Melody’. It had a new pumping dance orientated sound with lush production. However it lacked the emotional depth of earlier stuff like ‘Long Time Coming’.
With ‘Valentine’ they have broken through to the disco sound that they’ve been trying for. It kicks off with a thumping synth bass line, then the drums come in and this is soon joined by Greg Gilbert’s soaring falsetto. It’s got hand claps, a guitar solo and everything. On the lyrics side, it tackles lovers separated by the hurricane in New Orleans. I’d listened to it about twenty times without the full meaning of the lyrics becoming apparent. It’s great when a song you already love reveals it has hidden depths.
‘Someday Soon You’re Gonna Happen’ and ‘Shadows On Our School’ are written by Greg’s brother Aaron and have a more conventional sound. They’re quiet, introspective and paranoid affairs that are overshadowed by the A-Side, but they’re well worth a listen. ‘Talking Me Down’ is a mostly acoustic number by Greg. It’s nice to hear Geg’s sublime voice tackling a quieter number.
Freeform Five have also turned in a brilliant almost nine minute remix of ‘Valentine’. It’s all pulsating bass and electronics and uses Greg’s graceful vocals sparingly, to great effect.
‘Valentine’ has Trevor Horn at the mixing desk and he’s also at the helm of the Pet Shop Boys’ new album. On this evidence the future looks bright for Tennant and Lowe.
Delays Website / Delays MySpace Page
March 14, 2006
Pacemaker Recordings PANICS002: 6th March 2006
“Bar stool banshee, howled out at me”
2. Livin’ With Betty
“It was livin’ with Betty, that finally made me happy”
‘Salvador’ has a pulsating disco beat and atmospheric stabs of guitar. Jamie T’s first single was backed with an acoustic based song and this has one too. ‘Livin’ With Betty’ is delivered in a reggae style on acoustic guitar. This release has a little less of the fun lyrical twists than the first single. But it tells more of a story and the music so much more catchy.
These tracks are also available packaged with his first single as the ‘Betty & The Selfish Sons’ CD EP.
Jamie T Website / Jamie T MySpace Page
March 14, 2006
Memphis Industries MI057CDS: 6th March 2006
1. Something To Bang
“I’m working up a sweat, you’re bringing out the worst in me”
2. You Try Sober
“Why don’t you try sober, if you’re so sure about it?”
Phew, thank god! After hearing the giant leap forward that Absentee made with last single ‘Weasel’ I was concerned when I heard that the new single was ‘Something To Bang’ (From last years ‘Donkey Stock’ EP). Fortunately it’s been re-recorded by James Ford in spectacular fashion. It’s also got some blaring Brass played by The Rumblestrips. Once again it’s brilliantly dark pop music.
I downloaded ‘You Try Sober’ from Absentee’s MySpace page a while back. It’s presented here in a much better mix. This could easily have been a double A-Side single.
My fears that Absentee wouldn’t live up to the potential shown on ‘Weasel’ seem to have been misplaced. I can now wait for the album, confident it will be a masterpiece.
Absentee Website / Absentee MySpace
The Rumblestrips Website / The Rumblestrips MySpace