Allo Darlin, Plan B - Singles-Round Up 26/07/2010

Luke Langlands 01/08/2010

Well, my first big assignment has been handed to me by GIITV - the task of covering this week's singles round-up. Naturally, I've cocked the job up already by getting my weeks mixed up, and I've written it a week late (huzzah!). Personally, I feel some sort of Inception-style crime has befallen me and caused the tragic timetable mistake. So, hopefully the 'Zine Gods will look at me kindly, and this won't be both my debut and final article to grace the site. With that, Ladies and Gentlemen, lets breathe in deeply, think of England, and plunge into the plethora of new music on offer for these seven new(ish) musically-enriched days...

First up is 'Riser' by Fieldhead, which accompanies the EP of the same name. Written alongside the "desire to bring the sound of the human voice to the core of [their] music," the track would fit tight and snug inside the mind of David Lynch (watch Eraserhead with the EP in the background, it works quite well). As a piece of music that you can sit and listen to on its own, you're completely lost on it (or at least, I am.) It's a mood-setter more than anything artistic canvas that would work well in art galleries or shows, but not on your MP3 Player. I can never imagine someone thinking "Oh I'm going to listen to 'Riser,' I really fancy hearing some distortion and looped analogue tape'. You can't exactly walk down the high-street or cook pasta whilst it blasts out your speakers...would it be wrong to say I thought there was something wrong with my headphones when I pressed 'Play' for the first time? Next!

Lately there's been somewhat of a synth re-emergence in music, with La Roux, Little Boots, Hurts, Klaxons et al bringing back the 'eighties vibe'. New York quartet Violens continue this trend with 'Acid Reign.' Sold on a limited edition 7" with just 500 copies available, 'Acid Reign' is not to dissimilar to what would happen if The Smiths were smashed against New Order in the hadron collider. The song actually feels very fresh and new whilst still harping back to previous eras. Their MySpace describes them as 'Tropical' - I'm not sure what that means (it gave me visions of Duran Duran in the video for Rio), but if it means bands like Violen, then by George I like it! You should get into them now and tell all your friends - then when they 'make it' you'll look very cool.

Right, sick of all the art music and gay keyboards? Dinosaur Pile-Up (best name for a band ever, but special mention goes to Natalie Portman's Shaved Head) have just the remedy with 'Birds and Planes'. This three and a half minutes of rawwwwk is safe enough territory but extremely fun and raucous. Not too dissimilar to the Foo Fighters along with sprinkles of Ash just for good measure, Dinosaur Pile-Up have a solid single that's an excellent party song and guaranteed radio play-time. It may not appeal to some of the deeper-thinkers of music, but taking it for what it is - a very fun song that's a bit of a laugh - you'll struggle not to like it, even if it isn't exactly pushing the boundaries of music.

They might have arrived a couple decades too late, but Aussie band Violent Soho release their excellent single 'Jesus Stole My Girlfriend' this week. Very much grunge, long hair and angst-aplenty, it goes without saying (but I will anyway) that Nirvana will be a band that they are constantly compared with. In the nineties there would have been ten Violent Soho's rehearsing in every garage on the street, but luckily for them grunge isn't exactly 'in' at the minute. This gives the band an opportunity to do very well with a single like JSMG, and perhaps re-awaken the Generation-X that first fell in love with grunge in the early-1990's.

Scotsman Steve Mason has followed-up his fantastic single 'Lost and Found' with new effort 'Am I Just A Man.' Taken from his new album Boys Outside, the Edinburgh songwriter has a signature sound that is apparent in every one of his solo songs. The main attribute that sets him apart from everyone else is how refreshingly different he sounds. His music is brilliantly honest and simple (I don't mean that in a bad way), and is the perfect soundtrack to Edinburgh's cobbled streets.

Now comes a cute track from 'Allo Darlin' that sounds like the first thirty seconds came straight out of Grease. 'If Lonliness Was Art' has gorgeous vocals and attentive, soft music accompanied by lovely lyrics "you've been on your own as long as I recall / if loneliness was art, I could hang you from the wall." It's an uplifting song in every possible way, with a few darker lyrics dropped in to give an extra feeling of gravity to the piece. It's quite similar to some of The Cardigans' earlier stuff, and is one of those tracks that will really speak to some listeners, as if it was written just for them. The "sha-la-la" backing vocals might be a teensy bit overkill, but as a whole I really like this release. I imagine there'll be a fair few who don't, though.

This week surprisingly sees Plan B release 'Prayin' (I thought it had been out for months!). With the behemoth of air-time it's been given, along with positive reviews of second album The Defamation of Strickland Banks (is this REALLY the same Plan B that released 'Who Needs Action When You Got Words?'), it's almost a guarantee that this will be a consumer hit. I actually really like Plan B, even if it's probably very cool not too. He genuinely looks like a normal guy doing what he loves. 'Prayin' recounts life behind bars with an almost gospel feel to the vocals and lyrics - this feels very strange from the man who previously sang "killing ain't a crime, it's a fucking bloodsport." The lyrics recount feelings of guilt and regret from a man out of luck and turning to a prayer. The music goes along nicely to give all the attention to Mr. B's story of a man taking the rap (no pun intended) for a murder. 'Prayin' is a song where you really need to listen to it properly in order to appreciate it - if you just have it playing along in the background you completely miss the point of it. Before I sat down to write this review I thought it was okay, but now I've gave it a chance to unfurl it's wings, it's actually very impressive.


And there you have it, a quick whip-around the releases of this week (a few days too late.) Choosing my favourite track out of the selection might be a bit of a head-scratcher as there's some cracking songs (apart from Fieldhead, I'm afraid). Do I go for the nostalgic grunge of Violent Soho, the well-rounded electronic Violens, soulful Steve or Plan B, or softly-softly 'Allo Darlin'?
It's going to have to be 'Allo Darlin'. I'm sure they'll be absolutely ecstatic that someone of my grandeur picked them. It's such a well-made song with the most emotionally-fragile lyrics you're likely to hear. I've had it on repeat all day, and look forward to hearing more from them!