Big Deal, Rubicks - Singles Round-Up 15/11/10
Bill Cummings 15/11/2010
We're drowning in music, hundreds of thousands of clunky MySpace sites, years worth of streaming material on Spotify and days and days worth of mp3 pleasure jam-packing our ipods, and itunes, but who are the gatekeepers anymore? Sites like this and the plethora of music blogs across the net act are the modern day equivalent of that mate who used to say 'have you heard this band or this song yet?” but what about radio? Sure, the likes of 6Music provide a platform for new acts but the commercial claptrap of endless playlists are stifling. Away from the mindless hours of music video channels, terrestrial TV in the main has reneged on its responsibilities to popular music, in the past you had shows like the The Old Grey Whistle Test, The Word, and Top Of The Pops acting as a mainstream platform for the best in new music, now you're lucky if you see a act under thirty on old Jools Holland of a Friday night. The truth is mainstream music television is now dominated by slick corporate sponsorship on Channel four, or worst still you're X-Factor and your reality TV shows, little wonder then that the charts are so dominated by one style of music, how do you pick your way through your own music collections? Spotify may recommend but using your own ears would be a good start don't ya think? Whilst you chew on that one, let me be your guide to the best and worst of this week's new releases.
I'm a big fan of Wrexham's Polly Mackey and the Pleasure Principle, and their new single Higher came out last week. All moody atmospherics, glacially decorated by Polly's soulful vocals. It's a glistening, solid slice of alt pop that thrives on airy space created between drums, bass, and guitars, whilst not quite up there with previous single Silent Film this depicts vividly why P&TPP are delivering on their immense promise.
Becoming Real are a cool name to drop around at parties, indeed if I was to mention Salem and Becoming Real to a lady maybe she'll be impressed by my 'scene' credentials or something. Having actually heard them maybe I won't bother, eh? I believe Becoming Real's new single Like Me feat. Trim is what someone recently termed 'Glitch-hop' - in reality its a frustratingly underwritten thudding piece of hip hop driven by Mr Trim's tiresome affirmational chant…its more than a little underwelming,
Yusuf Asak's new single Eastern Sun is out on wonderful blog Song, By Toad from up in that there Scotland. It's a slice of gravely voiced balladry replete with Spanish style guitars. Its nice and not quite as startling as its clear influences (Tom Waits et al), but enjoyable enough for a Sunny day (ED:If we ever have any of those in the depths of Winter eh?) reclining in your easy chair. Awww ALLO DARLIN' how's it going?! Well not bad actually our new single is called My Heart is a drummer - a neat three minutes of girl-fronted indie pop. Its pretty melodies and jangle is ever so twee and ever so cute, but ultimately all a bit been here heard this bought the Belle and Sebastian T-Shirt before innit?!
GOOD LORD what's this? A moody looking man with a Trent Reznor fringe and an unnecessarily rat like goatee, singing over an 80s flecked gloom-pop background?! It's only LOTUS MASON! Don't know him?! Nah, me neither, but, he's got Swans and historical montages in the video for new single Dream Surreal. His band look dreadfully intense. This is like White Lies and Hurts trying to squeeze into a two man elevator, which sounds as painful an experience as it is. Imelda May ooo she's crooning soulfully in a glossy black and white video on her new single Kentish Town Waltz its very very very bland, but you can see the label's marketing department making up the new quotes as I type "She's the next Paloma Faith or Duffy!!" This is tailor made to be the soundtrack to the next M&S advert.
Much better is Jonny Cola & The A Grades
The Party's Over. I'll admit here and now this was out a good few weeks ago now, but its fluid, serrating glam stomp that fizzes, pops and yelps somewhere between the glam sneer of Ziggy era Bowie and the funkiness of Roxy Music makes that fact obsolete. The Party's Over could be a soundtrack to Dave Cameron's dastardly austerity Britain, and Jonny and his pals are down on the barricades waving a great big v signs at the whole tragic ridiculousness of it all..
SWEET DREAMS ARE MADE OF THESE WHO AM I TO DISAGREEEEEE (ED: Err you're reviewing the new single from LA trio Human Life!) Oh but hang on, the intro and squelching synth line of Wherever We Are is an exact lift of the Eurythmics classic, but oh oh oh the vocals and melody are tediously polished up by the autotune, this like one of those terrible 90s dance tracks you remember from being out of your mind and in a hideous club, in the chorus, dear me the 80s revival has reached a new nadir! London alternative electro act Rubicks are here to try and redeem the 80s bandwagon, and their new single Worship< has a pleasingly filthy groove to it, vocally reminiscent of CSS, its slinky beats and glistening synth sweeps remind one of Goldfrapp. Tuneful.
ROOOAAASRR we're Amberlin and we RAWK in our new video Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place. We look really earnest and scream out actually quite restrained contrived melodies really, in fact even though we throw our guitars around its all quite controlled, we look like we shop at Topshop so err we aren't that 'ROCK' after all, sorry kids nothing worth listening to here.
Away from the posturing and the contrived fury the best releases this week are actually the most sedate, first up is His Golden Messenger with Bad Debt (an apt hymn to Ireland's current problems perhaps?) A world-weary strum from song writing M.C Tayler his raw emotion and vivid whiskey soaked imagery draws warm comparisons with Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt.
Meanwhile Spoke's new one We Can Make It Out is the first single from their first record for Counter records, the offshoot of Ninja tunes. It's a gloriously throbbing, epic orchestral pop release that reminds one of early British Sea Power and Hope of the States. Its communal chanting melodies woven with impressive violin lines, rising to almost post rock crescendos.
Big Deal are a delightful new UK duo in the vein of Summer Camp or the more down tuned moments from the Mouldy Peaches back catalogue. Their new acoustic lullaby Homework is gorgeously wistful, its sighing aching girl/boy vocals are decorated by spindling acoustic guitars, that gently rock you to sleep in its arms, sending one off to dream of better gentler times.
Homework is just beautiful, and my single of the week. With their unassuming sound backed up on other tracks I've heard, Big Deal are a wonderful proposition in an unassuming package - they're sure to be a very big (deal) in 2011. Boom tish.