Fresh off his stint writing capsule reviews for some of your albums of the decade (here and here), Kieran's come on to write a few bits and pieces on this blog. If you'd like to do the same, send me an email - see sidebar.
It's a bumper week for singles but the elephant in the room is the Helping Haiti charity single. I think it's pretty bad but if you haven't donated to the Haiti relief fund then I would suggest that you either buy the single (details here) or donate to the DEC. Or do both if you fancy. Now onwards with the singles column...
Words: Kieran Toms
Speak & The Spells - She's Dead
Maybe this shouldn’t be very good at all. It is all raw, Sonics-y old school garage rock, and on paper could perhaps be filed alongside countless other boringly derivative landfill garage bands. But of course songs aren’t listened to on paper. Unless you are really good at reading sheet music. But that’s doesn’t count.
'She’s Dead' clatters around wonderfully, speeding up and slowing down like a demented rollercoaster. It’s got enough depth to warrant multiple listens, and a sort of authentic magic that means you can’t help but rate this very highly indeed.
Speak & The Spells - Brianna by fadedglamourblog
Download b-side 'Brianna' above.
Maccanuvas - Empty Vessels
Remember when the NME decided that ‘grindie’ was a real genre? Thought it might be a good idea - some grime was good, some indie’s good. Thought this might be a good song - I like Roots Manuva, I like The Maccabees. It almost is, but it just sounds something someone wanting to make the next 'Grey Album' would do in between studying for their GCSEs.
I’m not even really sure what’s that wrong with it, the two parts of Manuva and Maccabees are decent enough as separate components, but they just don’t go together very well. This song made me want to go and listen to Roots Manuva and The Maccabees, but separately. I suppose, as singles these days are promotional tools, maybe that was the point.
Placebo - Bright Lights
I wonder what life’s like for Placebo. Just travelling round, playing to a bunch of kids who are crazily fanatic, but will probably grow out of you soon enough. Sure they’ll probably look back on you favourably, through a haze of nostalgia, but they’ll be gone. But on Placebo will go, peddling their decent-enough music to a new bunch of musical beginners. Fun for a bit I guess, but I imagine it would all start to feel a bit empty.
Here it shows, as Placebo go through the motions. It’s not that bad. The kids can sing along and feel comforted in their teenage turmoil, but it’s not that good either. You just don’t really believe him.
Late Of The Pier - Blueberry
The weird soundscape at the start sounds it wants to be like the end of 'A Day in The Life'. Then it sounds like a bit The Beatles, with a nice simple pleasant melody. Then it sounds like a bit like a Beatles Mashup, with said melody interrupted by funny noises. Then it sounds like if the Beatles had gone to the moon listening to electro, instead of going to India to see that guru fella, all swirly synths and electronic grandeur. Although, thinking about it, that would be amazing. This is by no means amazing. It has lots of ideas, but they are not always that brilliantly executed.
Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo - Nostalgia
This is a delicate little number, with some good instrumentation enabling Emily Barker’s voice to sound particularly lovely. It is perhaps though a little too fragile for it’s own good though. It always threatens to really get going but never quite does, and you are left wishing the song writing had been a bit more ambitious.
Field Music - Them That Do Nothing
In the mid noughties, the North East produced The Futureheads and Maximo Park, who were both very good, and received plenty of praise and attention. But the North East also produced Field Music. And they were better, so I imagine they were a bit pissed off by the misdirected public lavishing most of their attention on the other two.
Luckily any anger has not affected their sound. Instead they have carried on doing what they do best, which is crafting beautifully inventive pop songs, like this one, which warrants listen after listen in order to appreciate all the terrific little ideas going on inside it.
Johnny Foreigner - Every Cloakroom Ever
I like this. It is perhaps lacking in some of the manic energy that is a key part of many of their songs, but it makes fine use of bassist Kelly Southern's voice, which interacts well with Alexi Berrow's. Perhaps might not immediately grab your attention, but it is nevertheless a good solid single.
Other Notable Releases:
Esben And The Witch - Lucia At The Precipice
The Besnard Lakes – Albatross
Kid Cudi feat Ratatat & MGMT - Pursuit Of Happiness
Japanese Voyeurs - That Love Sound
tUnE-yArDs – Real Live Flesh