Singles - November 2009
Posted by Kuang on Wed, 04 Nov 2009.
Eliza Doolittle - Rollerblades EP
A suprisingly diverse and cheeky little acoustic four tracker that effortlessly pulls in influences from laid back jazz to soul. Rollerblades wraps gentle reflections on life in a heart-flutteringly sweet melody, whilst Money Box spins together reggae overtones with chirpy dixieland brass. The mellow side of motown steps up to the mic next with the wonderfully relaxed Police Car, kicking off with an intro that sounds for all the world like the Temptations meets Jackie Wilson, before the dub-like Go Home raises the energy levels a bit and rounds everything off with a playful dig in the ribs. Brilliant.
The Cheek - Hung Up
Moody, sparse and slightly belligerent post-punk with added synths from this Suffolk 5 piece, with a chorus that tips its hat to 'Oi'. The Cheek take on the classic topic of the relationship angst and confusion of youth from an introspective point of view, like the Kaiser Chiefs after they've forgotten to take their happy pills. Quite palatable, but takes the award for possibly the messiest radio edit ever when it returns from the solo to the chorus.
Twin Atlantic - What Is Light? Where Is Laughter?
This is the second single we've had from the Scots indie rockers, and it's a belter. Twin Atlantic manage to sound emotional without being emo, incendiary without being scrappy and dynamic with no tokenistic nods to radio play. There's a dramatically changeable groove at work here, rebounding between subdued lyrical reflections and flat out fuzzbombing, but it maintains a level of heartfelt intensity that's a refreshing and uplifting fist in the air for the disaffected. Expect great things.
Miley Cyrus - Party In The USA
Bright and breezy pop that aims to push all the right demographic buttons, even down to namechecking Jay-Z and Britney. It's kind of what you would expect really; extremely generic teenie-pop that attempts to add an RnB sensibility through the medium of overly processed soundalike vocals. As pop goes it does all the right things, but don't expect an experience deeper than the disc itself.
Snow Patrol - Just Say Yes
A thumping beat-heavy offering from the that brings them closer to U2 than ever before, but that will also sound hauntingly familiar to some. The reason? They gave it to Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls) for her debut album, and have now released it themselves in the run-up to their forthcoming 'Best Of'. Thing is, you get the feeling their version only sounds the way it does because she made it work in that way. Shame really as she's good at soulful pop and Snow Patrol aren't. Far from bad, but not their greatest moment.
Alice In Chains - Your Decision
The latest single from Alice In Chains new album Black Gives Way To Blue is a polar opposite to Check My Brain, a low-key reflection on the fear and darkness of classics like Down In A Hole and Nutshell. New frontman DuVall brings more of his own personal tone into play here, gelling perfectly with Cantrell's gravelly harmonies and creates an atmospheric backdrop for the rich textures of the emotional chorus to build on. Still going strong.
Alphabeat – The Spell
Have we fallen back through time to the late 80s? Alphabeat's latest isn't so much retro as carbon copy, and sounds exactly like the sort of pop that dominated the charts back then.. except with touches of the now mandatory vocoder. Whether this is a good thing depends on if you lived through that time. If you didn't it probably sounds quite fresh and poppy. Otherwise, it'll probably remind you of hoping that the 90s would bring something new.
The Answer - Comfort Zone
The retro rockers return with a far quieter track than you'd expect, featuring slighty Eastern Zep-a-Like vocal lines and radio friendly lovelorn lyrics. It all sounds ok, but The Answer are capable of raising the roof and blowing it to bits wih a flick of their manes, and this sounds a bit.. I don't know.. cheesy? The Plant like vocal assault in the middle eight is welcome, but doesn't quite do enough to maintain their credibility. The second track, Here To Stay, is far more like it, meaner and with added snarl, but I'd recommend getting the album instead tbh.
Rise Against - Savior
The chicago straight-edgers throw down a tale of a painful and irreconcilable break-up, blending clear-cut melody with a vicious punk edge. It's possibly their most direct and focused single to date, a far cry from the early garage days, and sounds good for it too. Apart from the confusing acoustic middle eight, it rocks hard and unrepentant and is definitely worth a listen if you want a velvet story in a hadcore glove.
La Roux - I'm Not Your Toy
I keep reading interviews with Elly where she states that she's a new type of pop star and talks her music up to the level of the second coming whilst criticising her peers, but this single sounds precisely like the demo mode on a cheap casio keyboard. I genuinely don't get it and assume I must be missing something, as she's picking up a serious following. Unless you particularly like the vocals, there's nothing here you haven't already heard.
Flamboyant Bella - Get A Reaction
Bouncy disco revival, with all the pros and cons that suggests, along with a chorus that sounds exactly like R Kelly's 'Ignition' on double speed. Get A Reaction seems to sum up Flamboyant Bella's approach quite neatly, which is to work in at lest one (usually far more) sex, drugs or alcohol reference into just about every song. From some perspectives this is probably very entertaining, but from others it just smacks of look-at-me approval junkies. I think they've got a lot of spark and potential and this would work well as a kitsch party anthem, but there's more work to come.
AFI – Medicate
AFI turn out a straightforward four to the floor rocker with punkish overtones, and a chorus that reminds me of The Cult of all people. It's fairly dramatic without actually pushing any emotional buttons and comes across as a fairly radio friendly wedge of rowdy guitars that won't cause offence… but the price is that it probably won't start many fires either. Decent enough, but feels as if it's punching below its weight.
All American Rejects – When The Wind Blows
After 'Gives You Hell' I thought I had the wrong CD in the case here. It seems that one of AARs sidelines is in tear-jerky jukebox pop numbers that sound more boy-band than guitar fest. It's not that this is a bad track, but it's so far from what usually makes this band interesting that I can't help wondering what thought process led to it. If it was recorded by Blue or somebody similar you'd think it made a nice, organic sounding alternative to their normal stuff but I'm not entirely sure it rings true here. Have a listen, but don't expect rock.
Papa Roach – I Almost Told You That I Loved You.
This is not the Papa Roach that you know – ditch the angsty rap and overdriven rants, we're firmly in retro sleaze rock territory here. Think Love/Hate, Faster Pussycat, Motley Crue, etc. The music is ok and rocks along nicely, but the lyrics are almost unbearably cheesy even in this context. You could get away with that in the late 80s because everyone was doing it, but now it's as embarrassing as crashing a dinner party blind drunk and playing air guitar on the table. It's harmless in the way that most of the 80s stuff was, as long as you ignore the overtones of misogyny, but a return to previous form would be welcome.
Detachments - Circles / H.A.L
This is an odd little number, sitting firmly in the electronic minimalist camp alongside Kraftwerk, Ultravox and Numan, but with the latent aggression and disaffection of Joy Division. Circles is quite a dark atmospheric spacy number packed with deep, rich ambient synths, whilst H.A.L leans much closer to Gary Numan's angular and future-punky ethic. It's interesting and diverse, maybe even compelling in an indefinable way, but I can't work out if I actually like it or am just morbidly fascinated. Either way, I'm keeping an eye on them.