Singles Reviews: October 2000

Tracking Farrago - Spirit ep

Tracking Farrago appear to be a bunch of hippy folkies. That is the impression I get from listening to this, their debut ep.

They wouldn't be out of place at the annual drunken folkfest that is known as Cropredy with the songs on offer here, particularly their eponymous track - not a million miles from Duelling Guitars/Banjos.

That said, it's listenable and, even if you do have to be steaming to really enjoy it, it's OK by me. 3/5 Tone E

Vast - Free (Mushroom)
This probably would have been shoved in the heavy metal section in Nationwide record shops back in the naïve days of the early '80s along with Bon Jovi and Europe and unfortunately this sounds far too much like that genre of band for my liking. And I haven't heard that much echo put on a voice since the heady days of Blancmange. Sorry I can't get into this. 2/5 Tone E

Whistler - Happiness

This reminded me of Inspiral Carpets "Island Head" except with a female singer.

Whilst Kerry Shaw possesses an admittedly appealing voice I have to say that this single is about half as entertaining as Whistler's Mother herself. Presuming you've all seen the painting I'm sure you'll catch my drift.

If you've just had a spliff, then you may find yourself contemplating the words to track three "Small world" as profound. Whereas if you haven't, "How do they make the world seem so small/ when it isn't at all" probably in all likelihood will just sound like playground talk repeated over and over to annoy teacher. 2/5 Tone E

Alpinestars - 77 Sunset Strip

Recently acclaimed as an NME Single of the Week, this comes across like Vangelis and Kraftwerk taking Air on a chill out holiday, although I'm convinced this will be used in the future either as the theme tune to a documentary or an educational children's programme.

"Lost Reaction" on the other hand would be a welcome comedown after some serious action in the mosh pit of the band you've just seen at Glastonbury. Just nice. 3/5 Tone E

Hedrock Valley Beats - Coming Thru (My Stereo)

This Derry three piece recently blew up four PAs and a sampler live on Radio One. As pure coincidence their forthcoming album is provisionally titled "You Maniacs, You Blew It Up!" which I have to say in my opinion is the best name I've ever heard!

More exciting than most of the latest releases, its hip hop and funky feel coupled with outrageous samples make Hedrock Valley Beats a real hot prospect for the future. 3/5 Tone E

Lowfinger - Schoolroom Headrush

There seems to be a worrying trend towards 1980s cheese pop in the current batch of single releases and this is no exception.

I can see Billy Idol, Prefab Sprout, early Prince and more Billy Idol in this offering.

Now don't get me wrong, I do believe the ex -Generation X frontman deserves his place as a 20th century icon, but there was a time and a place for him and that kind of stuff. Just not now. Especially what sounds like a tribute band. Please not now. 2/5 Tone E

Fifth Amendment - Heave

When this started, I thought it sounded really promising, like one of Elastica's better singles. Then it happened, and it sounded like Suzi Quatro with a sore throat screaming.

Apparently they have previously achieved Single of the Week in Kerrang! Magazine. Must be an acquired taste then and I'm afraid I'm leaving half a plateful here. 1/5 Tone E

Manchild ft Kelly Jones - The Cliches Are All True (Mushroom)

Am I the only person who thinks Kelly Jones sounds like Rod Stewart?

Nothing wrong with that of course as long as we're not talking "Waltzing Matilda" era. Seriously though this is more like it. Killer bassline, loads of extra jangly bits going on behind the scenes and the 'phonics frontman getting carried away with the whole thing.

According to Melody Maker, Manchild are the best new band of the millennium. Maybe it's a bit early to say that but, so far, they could be right. 4/5 Tone E

Emiliana Torrini - Unemployed in Summertime

Her name conjures up a second division Italian footballer, but she sings like Harriet Wheeler of the Sundays, and I'm quite partial to the line "Playing silly buggers" as I haven't heard good old English words like that in song since the heyday of the late great Ian Dury.

Takes me back to the old student house parties where you'd find a garden gate hanging from a tree and a bath that's been covered in shaving foam come Sunday morning. Not forgetting a stench like someone's cat had died and nobody had bothered moving it for six months.

Very enjoyable. I think I'll play it again. 3/5 Tone E

Wilt - No Worries

Cracking single. "Running rings around me like a pixie in a plane". What the hell doesn't that mean? No matter. This is a beefy, guitar fuelled track that follows the traditional verse chorus verse chorus bridge guideline that seems to have been cruelly overlooked by many recent chartcomers.

Should be a hit, but then they haven't got stupid hairstyles or unusual piercings, and commercial DJs and magazines don't say to the general public "You like. Yes you do. You do do do do do. Here's the song again. And again. You DO want to hear it. You are under my control. I know it's been played a hundred times today already but just in case". And they don't go on Saturday morning children's programmes talking about teachers and eachother's hairy chests.

So it probably won't be. 5/5 Tone E

Ween - Even If You Don't (Mushroom)

And so we go back to the decade of power cuts, dodgy clothes and comedy programmes that we thought were funny at the time.

The only reason I say this is because I believe that the evil Godley and Crème have killed Ween, roped in their old mates from 10CC and had a right good knees up at their expense.

No? Well listen for yourself and THEN tell me it's not them.

Who told YOU I was paranoid? 3/5 Tone E

Lolly - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (EMI)

So. Cyndi Lauper records this song, right? And it's not too bad for 1984. It does really well, reaching number two in the UK charts. Then a bit later on in her career she realises all her new stuff's rubbish and decides to do her old biggie in a revamped way. Which is rubbish. And now Lolly has covered the rubbish revamp in a rubbish way that sounds no different to the rubbish Cyndi Lauper version.

But then she's quite nice to look at so I won't be too hard on her. 2/5 Tone E

Maxim - Scheming (Beggars Banquet)

For anyone who blinked when Maxim last entered the Top 40, it was him who recorded "Carmen Queasy" with Skin from Skunk Anansie.

The follow up is a mixture of hip hop, drum 'n' bass and Jamaican music. I'm not personally a fan of this kind of stuff but this is quite listenable actually. To quote the press release, "Scheming" is buitl around a Bashment rhythm, taking the two step blueprint deep into down and dirty funk territory". Whatever that means, Still like I said, it's quite melodic and not unpleasant. And yes, I do realise that last statement made me sound about fifty. 3/5 Tone E

Bellatrix - Jediwannabe

I caught this lot at the Carling weekend in Leeds. Despite having technical problems and some weasel telling them they had to cut four songs from their set, they coped admirably whilst in the process telling weasel boy in no uncertain terms where to get off.

"Jediwannabe" is a beautifully crafted number complete with nice crashing guitars and a chorus to die for.

I have no hesitation whatsoever in pronouncing this single of the year so far.

Stunning. 5/5 Tone E

Aurora featuring Naimee Coleman - Ordinary World (Positiva)

Duran Duran's old single resurrected in a dance style.

OK, rule number one of music journalism, always be constructive when you're criticising stuff. But forget that because this is just crap. 1/5 Tone E

Timo Maas - Ubik

So it's not just because it's late at night then, as this is quite good. The last two records I reviewed really WERE that bad. I'm quite pleased about that as I thought I was just getting old.

This sounds like David Bowie reinventing himself with a decent dance tune. After all he does manage that sometimes. Honestly.

Maybe Timo got off lightly because it's the last one of the batch that I have to review, but no, I honestly think I like it. 3/5 Tone E

Monsta Boy featuring Denzie - Sorry (I didn't know)

I don't know why exactly but this reminds me of that extremely tacky recent chart hit that was Wookie's "Battle". But less interesting. I mean, I know I've only written two lines so far, but during these two lines, the song has managed to irritate me to the extent that I'm grinding my teeth and rocking back and forth like a loony.

And if that doesn't do it for you, there are two more mixes of this monosyllabic nightmare to get through. Do me a favour. 0/5 Tone E

Planet Perfecto - Bullet in the Gun (Perfecto)

OK, so this was one of the better dance anthems of the last few years. A damn fine tune to be fair. But does it really warrant a re-release with seven new mixes on it? Fair enough it's very popular and not without good reason, but I can't help thinking a makeover so soon is a little rich.

Great track, but because of what I just said, only gets 3/5 Tone E

Nigo - Freediving (MoWax)
Post Pet Sounds Beach Boys is the vibe that hits home upon pressing play, as the author, Japanese home boy, Nigo has crafted a perfect slice of retro meets the 21st Century. Huge bass bins wallow from the centre of the sound, as Ham' organ and guitar prop up the melody. Here we find the alternative face of MoWax, a face that will reaffirm your faith in music. 5/5 Nick James

Badly Drawn Boy - Disillusion (XL Recordings)
  The second single to be taken from the Mercury winning album, Hour of the Bewilderbeast, and one album I have no qualms in announcing my album of the year and this even before Mercury got their teeth into it. Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy pulls another top tune from his his debut and in true musicians musician form, throws in another two previously unreleased tracks and not just another remix to reaffirm a reason to buy not just the album. 4/5 Nick James

Lowgold - Beauty Dies Young (Nude)
  Familiar 'Dying Young' Radiohead kicks off this awesome chug, chug from Nude boys Lowgold. But far from being stereotypical 'Bedwetters', these boys ooze maturity, fine song wrting and a strong back section. Don't feel embarrassed in recognising Teenage Fanclub and Buffalo Tom because with these boys in your closet you can do nothing but gain respect. 5/5 Nick James

Utah Saints - Power To The Beats (Echo)

Testosterone charged cuts, aka The Prodigy, is where the Utah's latest meets you straight between the eyes. Public Enemy's Chuck D offers vocals power to the most forth coming Utah's cut yet, an album just nestling around the corner would be the icing on the cake. 5/5 Nick James

Dope Smugglaz - Barabajagal (Perfecto Records)

Dope Smugglaz return following last years 'Double Double Dutch', adding Allstars to their tag and Shaun Ryder and Howard Marks to their line-up, on this phat tune. (Ryder's in the house here, so try not to read too much into the lyrics, they read like a foreign phrase book, minus the translation) The Utah's offer their hand to the mixing, now just hold onto your hats. 4/5 Nick James

JJ72 - Oxygen (Lakota)

Preceding the release of their debut longplayer, this wreaks of marketing masterpiece, following in the footsteps of Muse before them. What can I say this is the epic ballad, it's all a bit contrived. 3/5 Nick James

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