Single Reviews: January 2003

 

InMe - Crushed Like Fruit (Music For Nations)

With accolades like "Best New British Band" at this year's Kerrang! awards, British three piece Inme certainly have a lot to live up to, especially going by the mass music media's glowing praise over the last year. Atomicduster is no sheep however, and our two reviewers will graze their own grass about the matter.

T: They seem to have found a happy medium between rock, metal, indie and grunge and boy, does it work! I don't know if they aspire to sound like anyone in particular but they have encapsulated the four genres I just mentioned without ever sounding tired or like wannabes.

N: Dave McPherson whose vocal presentation has been likened to that of Vedder or Cobain, certainly has a range fitting of a rock band, and pulls this off with ease and sincerity. I too think that the group aspire to sound like no-one other thsn themselves.

T: And Inme clearly have a wonderful panache for crafting well written, cleverly thought out tracks that will no doubt establish them as one of the nation's heavyweights over the coming decade. 8/10

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Peter Gabriel - More Than This (Virgin)

Obviously fuelled by Erasure's rubbish recent cover of "Solsbury Hill", Peter Gabriel has decided to set the record straight by releasing a new single from his album "Up".

T: An inoffensive little number from the man who briefly made Genesis credible in the early seventies by wearing plant pots and full shrubberies on his head to take the stage. The only real criticism I would have to level at it however, is that when it slows down, it sounds frighteningly like a Phil Collins record.

N: But surely, what else could follow the line "More than this...", the title of Peter's single, other than "So much more than this." ? Someone's obviously been listening to Bryan Ferry before he went to bed. A big fan of "So", when this found its release, "More Than This" bears a great deal of resemblance in structuring to much of this album, and perhaps if an autopsy were carried out, we would find that this album was still pumping from the heart. 7/10

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Kiko - Italomatic (Goodlife/Pias Recordings)

Here in the UK we are used to the likes of Daft Punk and Bob Sinclar when it comes to French house music, however I think we now have a new kid on the block in the guise of Kiko.
 
Kiko has recently released his first debut album to critical acclaim and 'Italomatic' is the second release off his ' Midnight Magic' album.  The track is technically very tight and both the club mix and the 'Kiko and The Hacker remix' carry a retro eighties sound into a new century. Personally, the remix is my preference as it offers a more interesting weave of tech-house beats with a funky 80's disco vibe. Certainly one that will be appearing in my sets over the next few weeks.
 
I look forward to listening to the album in full, if this track is a typical example of what is to come, give me more! A fresh take on a retro sound that doesn't reproduce the sound for the sake of fashion but twists and contorts it into something new that we rarely get a taste of in the UK. 9/10

Nic Caesar - The Funkaholics

 
 

 

3rd Edge - Know You Wanna (Parlophone)

This, the follow up to "In And Out" is another "furious mix of UK garage, R & B, hip hop and soul" according to the press release. The band has earned the respect of So Solid Crew and the Sugababes amongst others, and Ms Dynamite was quoted as saying "3rd Edge are a really talented and genuine group of guys". What do our panel think?

N: Nice enough song, and you just know this is going to do well commercially. But will then be instantly forgotten and found six months later in the bargain bin at Woolworth's. I can't detect the talent spoken of here, but what I can hear is a "colour by numbers" production, produced from behind the controls rather than by the artists themselves.

T: I have a mate, Indie Pete, who only listens to indie music and every time I've worked with him he's played only indie music, which is fine by me. But on one very strange occasion he chose to bring in an Alexander O'Neal album, which, I'll be honest with you, I found as torturous to my ears as Michael Madsen in "Reservoir Dogs". This sounds like the eighties luurrve god himself to me, and whilst it certainly doesn't float my boat, I don't hate it either. It's infinitely more listenable than S Club Juniors anyway. 4/10

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Schneider TM - Reality Check (City Slang)

Described by Time Out as sounding like Velvet Underground covering "Blue Monday", new single "Reality Check" is released on 27th January after having won the hearts of many of the music media's toughest critics. But what about us?

T: I can't detect ANY resemblance whatsoever to Lou Reed and co, or indeed to Mr Sumner. What were they thinking?

N: Anyone who uses CCR's line "bad moon rising" has to be fairly serious about what it is they are producing. Not at all commercial, but strangely familiar (certainly not in the sense that has been allowed to us), and ultimately listenable. Yeah, they got me sold, where do I sign?

T: You want to be careful saying things like that. Look what happened to Wyclef Jean. 8/10

 
 

 

Richard Ashcroft - Science of Silence (Hut)

Following the success of his "Human Remains" album, Richard Ashcroft returns with the third single from it.

N: Like our formerly featured artist here, Richard, it could be said, writes material with an astute similarity. Like "Alone With Everybody" before this, and The Verve before that, Richard's music bears a hallmark and in no way do I wish to dismiss him as an artist through saying this. In fact, quite the opposite. "Science Of Silence" is award winning material in itself.

T: Ii may even win the Educational Award for Geology, judging by the lyrics ("We are on a rock..."), but I have a sneaking suspicion that this may be the precursor to Richard going all Sting on us - expect a third album full of world music and flugelhorns, but for now we'll snuggle up to what is possibly some of the best stuff he's made in his career. 8/10

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Wilt - Understand (Mushroom)

A steadily rising profile with previous singles attracting much support frfom MTV, Kerrang TV, Radio One, XFM and Virgin has seen Wilt emerge as one of the "bands most likely to" in the near future. This, their new single should be no exception to the rule.

T: Michael Stipe anyone?

N: Mister Stipe must surely play a considerable part in this singer's record collection. Perhaps a little more "bubblegum pop" than confounding lyrical content, but the guitarist is certainly not so much a fan of Peter Buck, rather than in this case, you could almost say his leaning is toward that of Spinal Tap. But the song, a nice enough three and a half minutes, I've had better - what is foreplay anyway?

N: Reminds me of "Pop Song '89" more than any other REM track, but yeah it flows nicely and distortedly along, and in answer to your question, foreplay is getting her drunk isn't it? 7/10

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JJ72 - Always And Forever (Lakota Records)

The second single from the band's astonishing "I To Sky" is released this month and has been re-recorded by John Leckie of Stone Roses and The La's fame.

N: "Class", not so much in a glass, more on a tiny silver disc, this is JJ72 and a well crafted song that oozes the talent that this band possess. It is almost too grandiose, tongue in cheek maybe, but in years to come, I can still see tracks from their current album being played on a regular basis on the playlists of Wogan and JY's successors. Not cool maybe, you may say, but this is where genuine talent proves itself over all else, and I'd much rather be remembered fondly than as the wrapping for tomorrow's fish 'n' chip supper.

T: Far from my favourite track on the album, but what does that matter? Every track on it is superb, and this is another uplifting, celestial slice of indie pop that still reaches all the right places without even seeming to try. Put it this way, I'm neither gay nor bisexual, but if JJ72 continue making music as glorious as this then I WILL want to give Mark Greaney a blow job. Although if Hillary wants to return the favour... 9/10

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Glasgow Gangsta Funk- Cutey Pie (Southern Fried Records)
 
A quality filter house track with a nice New York vocal to give the track some interest. Glasgow Gangster Funk aka Gary Gilroy and Marvin Beaver (sorry Marv, but is that your porn name??!!) have a string of successful disco edged house tracks to their name and this is yet another. Although the filtered sound has been done to death, this is a good example of its genre and no doubt will be popular across dancefloors, more so with the ladies methinks!!! Which is no bad thing! Wink, Wink!

Previous tracks such as 'Do You Wanna Dance' and 'Hos Funkin Tonight'
(both on Independiente) have had plays in recent times from the likes of Boy George and Danny Rampling. Cutey Pie to date has had plays on Annie Nightingale's Radio 1 show and recently Lottie has featured it as part of the Buzz chart.
 
With a release date of the 20th of January this will shortly be getting many plays amongst the stomping funky house posse. This release on Norman Cook's Southern Fried label has a solid dub version too and a rappapella which is useful for those who like to create a new vision of what will be a popular tune. 5/10

Nic Caesar - The Funkaholics

 
 

 

The Cognition - So Different/Bamboo Section (Full On Records)

Having recently completed recording of their first album in Notting Hill with Phil Bagenal (Ash, Cornershop), this single is released in January to tickle the tastebuds of the general public.

T: This band features the Campbell brothers - I hope that's not a cue for them to follow in the footsteps of their namesakes and scrap their initially impressive chilled out musical offerings and pursue a path that leads to embarrassing reggae cover versions and screeching incoherently about the fact that they've found a rat in their kitchen.

N: And a new variety within their soup range. To be serious, a pre-release CD-R, vacant of artwork (although I wasn't too keen on the finished product for their "Gettin' Messy" ep), but what does this matter? The essence of "indie" is offered here in generous proportions. Music that is well produced from both sides of the desk, a well penned song, and four guys that look as if they'd relate well to their audience. I'm more than impressed by this release.

T: Me too, it has a kind of eighties feel, but not the big hair-big cheese variety, thankfully. 9/10

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Paul Oakenfold - The Harder They Come (Perfecto)

Oh, come on, you don't need me to introduce Paul Oakenfold...

T: This single features the vocal talents of 16 year old Keisha White, an incredibly mature performance which surely belies her tender years. Being the follow up to August's smash hit "Starry Eyed Suprise" (which incidentally was a great track ruined by Radio One's incessant airing of the track between every brief gap when Sara Cox actually shut her mouth), it's probably less likely to gain as much airplay, but this reminds me of one of those wonderful summer nights out in London pubs and clubs that culminate in some trendy coffee shop somewhere. The fact that Tricky is also featured herein only adds to the spice of the record.

N: re-recorded from his original album version, Paul's adoption of Keisha here, over that of Nelly Furtado, I would hope you would agree, he's pulled off another stroke of genius. Hers is a talent that lets the music breathe, and has turned an album track into a top selling chart release. 9/10

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Jesse Malin - Queen Of The Underground (One Little Indian)

The first single from Malin's debut album "The Fine Art Of Self Destruction" is due for release this month, following a tour with Ryan Adams where apparently both artists crashed eachother's set regularly.

T: I think perhaps we were a little harsh before in dismissing this artist's album as below average, as it has indeed proved a grower, and he no longer sounds like Grandad from "Only Fools And Horses" to me - in fact Van Morrison is probably a more accurate description, and possibly even Neil Young. Ten times better than it sounded on first listen.

N: Jesse's music is fluid, a breeze that plays with a summer's ease, only to be brought to earth by his laboured vocal talents. This is Springsteen without "the boss", as you might expect after a double shift minus the benefit of even a nap. Perhaps this is what we heard - a musician, surely not a singer.

T: I'm not sure I agree. Springsteen's music has been sounding pretty tired of late, and listening back to his "Born In The USA" golden age, even that sounds incredibly dated now and far, far too contrived for "The Boss" to have ever deserved the nickname bestowed upon him. At least Malin offers something different.

N: Yeah, a nap, 'cause this is what I want right now. Maybe in time, I will come to appreciate this downtrack presentation. 6/10

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Honey Punks - Should I Stay Or Should I Go (Full On Records)

No, not another cash-in on Joe Strummer's untimely death by the money grabbing vultures of the industry. This was already scheduled for release in February one month before the legend passed away. Annabell and Natalie are two seventeen year old girls who write their own stuff but were told by their record company that they would have to release a cover version first, so before spitting and tearing out your hair, bear this fact in mind.

N: Ah. Girl bands, and this one in true eighties guise. Are the media working on resurrecting this most opulent of eras? Hey, why not give Sta-Press a chance too?

T: (presses play) Okay, can I spit and tear my hair out now?

N: What this is likely to give the greater record buying public I don't know. Just because the girls want to be famous shouldn't give a record company carte blanche to release this sort of shite. All I can imagine is that the girls must be true prodigies or at least give good...

T: I want to give the girls a chance, not only because of your last statement, but also because I haven't heard their self written product. For now though, the RC's dictation that they will have to ruin one of the Clash's great (albeit one of their less impressive great tracks) I'm afraid will consign them to being strung up and quartered on this occasion. 2/10

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Harrison Crump - I need Your Love (PIAS Recordings)

This is genuinely a superb production from one of US house's premier artists/producers, however, it's not a prime number in my eyes.
 
Harrison Crump has been a major influence on the East Coast US house scene for at least a decade. He has appeared as a writer, vocalist and producer for the likes of Chicago's Felix the House Cat, and several releases on the prominent Subliminal label. This is another quality production but the vibe is more 'chill out' or to Americanise it 'kick back'. A beautifully soulful vocal with a down-tempo groove, I see this as an early evening bar track or an early morning chill out groove.
 
Not a prime time track but great production and arrangement on all mixes. My favourite is the original mix and will will certainly get the bars jumping! Definitely one for Sunset at Mambo with cocktails! May be a bit soppy for some but it does have one catchy vocal! 7/10

Nic Caesar - The Funkaholics

 
 

 

Alabama 3 - Reachin' (One Little Indian)

Named after an infamous miscarriage of justice in the 1930s when two black men were hung for the alleged rape of a white woman (the case was known as that of Alabama 2), this band has now been going since the eighties and has shown no signs of letting up ever since. This new single is released in early February.

T: This politically aware band always remind me of Gregory Peck in "To Kill A Mockingbird" and the story of the origin of their name is further proof to me of their affiliation with the character - very much an "innocent until proven guilty" kind of thing and will fight tooth and nail for the very causes they believe in. Interesting to note that, according to the band themselves, the secret of their longevity is their war on dance music ("Glossy dance mags, star DJ's super clubs and girls in fluffy bras - I mean, fair enough if people wanna do that but for us it's about something else"). I couldn't agree more, music to me means conveying intelligent opinions to the people of the world of what is wrong with it and what we can do about it, rather than telling eachother how much we want to "get funky with them".

N: This band strikes me as the poor man's Barry Adamson, all of what you just said, but surely with a heavy helping of gospel funk served at the altar of the righteous man.

T: But is that really a criticism?

N: It wasn't meant to be a criticism.

T: Good, as I think this is probably the best single I've heard the band release to date.

N: Goes 3 for me 2. 7/10

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Dan Bern - The Swastika E.P. (Cooking Vinyl)

I think I'll just introduce this by using the final comment from the accompanying "press release": Dan Bern and the International Jewish Banking Conspiracy may not be intent on unilateral world domination. But they certainly have rock & roll nailed down.

T: It's like BoB Dylan has spent a whole month at the Comedy Club and come back with a hilariously witty repartee for performance at the local student union.

N: Bob Dylan took in Bill Hicks, more like. This is reminiscent of his cutting observation laid before us to musical accompaniment.

T: And as I was saying in the Alabama 3 review, we need even more intelligent, politically aware artists such as this if we're to stop the country heading for the economic graveyard. 8/10

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The Darkness - Get Your Hands Off My Woman (Must Destroy Music)

Having achieved the distinction of becoming Jo Whiley's Pet Sound with their debut single "I Believe In A Thing Called Love", The Darkness release their new single in February through Must Destroy Music. The band were also names "Best Unsigned Band" at "In The City" as well as playing SXSW. Are we right to believe the hype?

N: We reviewed a group's album very similar to this recently. This was Jack Black's Tenacious D, and I've not played the album since. How should this set itself apart and are we expected to take them seriously?

T: Not too seriously I hope, as it suggests to me Aled Jones on the verge of breaking into puberty and not sure whether to sing falsetto or use his new found deeper tones because his band members have moved out of short trousers and started listening to Saxon.

N: Very adept rock though, dated, but put through a Marshall stack, does that matter? 6/10

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Alpinestars - Burning Up (Riverman Records)

NME - "Just once we should be grateful for a band who refuse to know their place" - An interesting comment, but what do they mean? Let's find out.

N: As I recall, this for me encapsulated the Alpinestars' last album - dreamy, spacious and with an infectious beat that hooked me like a fisherman's line on a pike, and he ain't goin' nowhere.

T: Ha. You'd be more likely to catch a bike than a pike if you went fishing, but to the music, and yes, the Alpinestars make addictive flowing music that always has a heartwarming feel and this is no exception.

N: But after such a fantastic original, unfortunately the mixes let the side down.

T: But surely we're marking the A-side... 8/10

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Million Dead - Smiling At Strangers On Trains (Integrity Records)

Released in early February, this single coincides with a handful of forthcoming tour dates, so you can judge them for yourselves.

N: Have these been listening to Jetplane Landing? Some accolade for the JPL boys if they have, but what a band, and a fantastic debut!

T: Not even close to being on a par with Andrew Ferris and co, yet Million Dead have given the emo genre (which, let's be honest, was getting a little tired) a much needed boot up the backside and injected a frantic underground punk feel into proceedings, and results in a top drawer single that should establish the band as strong contenders for greatness. 9/10

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