Singles Reviews: July 2002

   

Star*Bodixa - Give Me Rain (Uglyman)

T: Give me rain? Bugger off. I like it sweaty, though I would concede that it may have been useful if there had been any in time for England's match with Brazil in the world cup earlier today. Maybe we could have played it beforehand and attempted a rain dance. We'll have to remember that next time.

N: But as we're here to talk about music, a cracking little number, sound structuring and vocals that may recall memories of All About Eve's Julianne Regan.

T: With a Danielle Dax backing track thrown in?

N: Yes. If you fancy. Star*Bodixa are quite unlike the stereotypical "young indie band", producing mature material, but perhaps it is a little derivative, but then again, what's wrong with that?

T: Very much in keeping with your original comparison when you get to track two anyway. But yes, an impressive little debut single.

N: A bold move from such a fledgling band. I genuinely hope they do well. 7/10

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Slo-Mo - Death Of A Raver(Circus)

Sheffield. The land of steel, ugly blokes stripping and the Human League. Other than Pulp, what else do they have to show for their endeavours? Enter Slo-Mo, who have been likened to Stereo MCs, The Smiths and Air. But do we believe the hype?

N: Well I can see where whoever it was got the Air comparison from, if using a lo-fi backing track is all you need to make one from. The Smiths, well maybe - the songwriting is excellent, although not on a par with Morrissey et Mar. Stereo MCs? For the sheer unadulterated raw hip hop. I have to tell you I've never been so utterly struck by a single in such an immediate and long lasting way as this.

T: I can actually see where the Stereo MCs comparison is coming from far more than I can see the others, but it's lyrically sound and has an almost arrogant swagger about it as it knows it's so good. I actually am familiar with the original song from where the Brazilian sample is taken, believe it or not - my wife being a big fan of an album that Astrud Gilberto made with Stan Getz - so I can concur that yes, it is used to the best possible standards, and the other tracks are just as good too. Apparently, the chap who wrote the song, Carlos Jobim's widow thinks it's fantastic. Not many better accolades than that and on this showing, not many would disagree either. The Soft Cell mix of the single actually sounds like The Beloved on heat.

N: David Gledhill, the band's singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer has apparently already recorded an entire album's worth of music at his home studio in Sheffield, recordings that have already attracted a great deal of interest in the UK, USA and Europe, with praise coming from heavyweight Butch Vig no less, surely we sit and wait in anticipation for these fruits to be heard. It just leaves to be said - Sheffield, a class act. 9/10

 
 

   

Nerd - Rock Star (Virgin)

T: You're going to think I've been out in the midday sunshine too long, but I think this sounds like the Barenaked Ladies....albeit a beefed up mudcaked version.

N: I have no idea where you're coming from there. This has the power of the Prodigy, and a style that's difficult to pin down, as it's evident production is a lot of their sound. Having heard the Jason Nevins remix, I'm making comparisons in my mind to Run DMC, but anyway, elaborate....

T: Well, just listen to the parts where he's singing a lot of words in a short space of time - it sounds like Therapy? sings Barenaked Ladies. Honestly!

N: Ok point taken. But surely this is Jermaine Stewart!

T: Ha ha. You're right! Or Terence Trent D'Arby....anyway do we like it?

N: As a one track single it has some cracking sounds, but what are the group like? For the answer to this question, go "In Search Of...", out on Virgin Records now. 7/10

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Dirty Vegas - Ghosts (Credance)

Formed by three lads from Kent sharing an enthusiasm for dance music, Dirt Vegas finally release their second single, some twelve months after their debut "Days Go By" dented the charts.

T: God this sounds like the Mock Turtles! Or any number of those early nineties bands with a passion for all things baggy.

N: Certainly coming nowhere near the quality of the music found on the group's album, why on earth this found itself put out to herald the new long player I don't know. Nice enough music, but it's certainly not going to break any records.

T: I would have to go against you on this occasion. It makes me feel all nostalgic - as though I'm back up in Manchester for one of those Factory Records weekends or in Stratford-Upon-Avon at the Phoenix festival. Though it has to be said that it bears more than a passing resemblance to the previously touted band's "Strings & Flowers" single. But it's definitely a sun lounging song, and that's just fine by me.

N: Nostalgic yes. But as we know, "Strings & Flowers", or the album from whence it came, marked the end of the Turtles' career. This just seems a bit airy fairy to me.

T: We shall agree to differ there. 7/10

 

   

Supernaturals - Life Is A Motorway (Koch Records)

Seems a little late to release a football anthem, but that's just what Supernaturals have done. Does it come up to scratch?

N: Now surely that beginning is Jan Hammer and the beginning to Miami Vice isn't it?

T: Sounds more like the intro to World In Motion followed by a drug addled Three Lions as backed by Heaven 17's long lost Italian uncles.

N: Immediately this strikes me as a nice song, but just how long it will last before it becomes irritating to the point of suicidal is yet to be seen. But as with all football anthems, perhaps this may be sooner rather than later.

T: And you can't fool us into thinking that title's particularly original either. I remember Tom Cochrane's "Life Is A Highway" too. Unless of course the guys were influenced by Ronan Keating's "Life Is A Rollercoaster"...hmmm perhaps not. 7/10

 

   

Idlewild - American English (Parlophone)

T: Contrary to our colleague Naim's views in this month featured interview, I actually like this single, even if it does smack of mid-eighties U2.

N: Where are you getting U2 from? This guy's been overdosing on Michael Stipe...

T: Now you mention it, yes, I can see where you're coming from. It's the guitar effects I was relating to.

N: Maybe not a classic, but overall a nice single, and certainly a tad more interesting than Travis. 7/10

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The Streets - Weak Become Heros (Locked On)

Gaining no end of publicity in the mass media for opening up doors all over the shop towards new musical genres, this looks set to give the Streets a huge summer hit.

T: But IS it that original? I seem to remember Lo-fidelity All Stars advocating their own cynicisms on their acclaimed debut album "How To Operate With A Blown Mind" in a not dissimilar way. That aside, if there were awards for poetic license, The Streets would have a mantelpiece brimming over with the things. This is more "now" than anything else at present, and effortlessly sums up a generation of clubs, kebabs and Playstations. That, at least, deserves praise of the highest order.

N: Seems to me we've heard the loop before. It could almost be Bez on vocals, But I respect what the guy's doing, and ultimately this possesses an infectious quality that should surely stomp on many of the pre-packaged artists out there today.

T: Streetwise, politically sound and firmly in tune with the kids of today, the Streets have a bright future ahead. 9/10

 

   

The Crescent - Test Of Time (Hut Recordings)

T: Starsailor with louder guitars.......

N: We've heard the Crescent before in the pages of this magazine. Solid rock sensibilities, obviously a strong hook, - indie rock would appear to be safe in their hands. On hearing track two, it sounds like The Monkees meets The Stones. Particularly "The Last Time". The spirit of Brian Jones lives.

T: You've silenced me there. I don't think I've ever heard a more accurate comparison. Although I think I would add The La's into the equation too.

N: Certainly a latter day La's, but nuff respect, this is great. 8/10

 

   

Wilt - Distortion (Mushroom)

T: You could never accuse Wilt of being too predictable. This latest single is a lovely distorted guitarfest akin to Buffalo Tom at the pinnacle of their success. Probably the best and most powerful track that this band has released to date in my opinion.

N: Certainly nothing wilted about this number. Is it any coincidence that you can get Viagra on the NHS now?

T: But can they keep it up?

N: Inevitably. 8/10

 

   

The D4 - Party (Infectious)

T: I still think, to reiterate what I said in the last issue, that these sound like The Damned in their early days.

N: Like the children in Mad Max, these have the conviction of a post apocalyptic society, and more balls than the National Lottery.

T: A lot of their songs sound the same, but hey, that's their tempo and they like it! 6/10

 

   

My Vitriol - Moodswings (Infectious)

Undoubtedly proud to have won Atomicduster's (joint) album of the year in 2001, My Vitriol return with a brand new single, before releasing the album for a second time (albeit remixed and as a double this time around). You can read our featured interview with Carolyn Bannister in the relevant pages this month.

T: They've obviously lost none of the bite or appeal that was so evident on that blistering debut album anyway.

N: Certainly a remarkable band, not one to snuggle up with your girlfriend to on a Saturday night, more a driving anthem, and "The Gentle Art Of Choking" should surely become a soundtrack to the summer. 8/10

 

   

30 Seconds To Mars - Capricorn (Immortal Records)

Hailing from Southern California, 30 Seconds To Mars have been produced by the legendary Bob Ezrin of Kiss and Pink Floyd fame. Having recently been invited to support current rock darlings Puddle Of Mudd on their spring six week tour, this is their debut single.

N: Despite the omen in the music here, I can sense the group are likely to become a huge hit with fans of this genre. Well produced (would you expect anything less?) and certainly well performed.

T: I was, in the early nineties, a big fan of bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden and Faith No More. I still admire what they did too, but I have to confess, grunge is something that happened then and there, and I never really looked back. This is a bit too much like Linkin Park for my liking too. True, they're adept at what they do, but not really my cup of tea. 6/10

 

   

Steve Mac - Visions Of Tech ep (Underwater)

One half of the Rhythm Masters, Steve Mac releases his first solo effort since their demise.

T: This sounds rather a lot like my dishwasher if I put too many plates in there at a time.

N: A pulsating vibe, coupled with sound samples obviously taken out of the kitchen. But to "Wee Your Bed", the flip side here, surely that's incontinence Steve?

T: Not appealing to me at all to be honest. Even so, the man has clocked up a higher score from me just for having the gall to write a song with the latter title. 6/10

 

   

Dr Rubberfunk - Step On It (GPS Recordings)

Very much a jazz influenced track here, apparently having already gained massive club exposure. Steve Lamacq himself has championed DJ Rubberfunk in the past so what's the verdict of the jury?

T: I feel like Ronnie Scott has leapt out of the sound system and started massaging a bassline through my ears and into my central cranium as an evil ploy to get me dancing.

N: I'll say all that, and Luther Vandross on Acid Jazz. Would have perhaps done better during the latter's boom of teh early nineties. But in a smoke filled jazz club, hosted by a rotund compere with a goatee, Rubberfunk may just find his nirvana.

T: Nice. 8/10

 

   

Tim Deluxe - It Just Won't Do (Underwater)

Having reached no.1 on the Miami Buzz Chart, 24 year old Tim Deluxe releases the follow up to last year's club smash "Sirens".

T: The Miami Buzz chart? What's that when it's at home then? I mean, my own band reached number one on the Leicester download chart....is that on the same level or what?

N: Sorry, this is just annoying. Delivered to the level of Muzak, bearable. But pressed into my face in a closed environment, I'm likely to go out and commit homicide.

T: I know what you're saying, but surely going out and killing someone because you don't like a three minute single is a little extreme?

N: It's the mixes that come with it!! 4/10

 

   

Ten Speed Racer - Listen To Bits (Red Flag Record Company)

Dublin band Ten Speed Racer follow hot on the heels of their stunning debut ep "Girls And Magazines" with another possibly destined for greatness. What do you reckon?

T: Being a fan of good lyrics, I think I may have heard the best line of the year in "Wish I wasn't such a freak when I was a child". Three corking tracks. One thunderous A-side, a second that makes you feel like you have a Ready Brek type glow around you, and a third that makes you feel like you're sitting around a fire at Scout Camp...er...actually, scrub that last one.

N: Been to many Scout "camps" recently Tone? But to be serious, this is one cracking single, spoiled only by your reminiscences of, hopefully, childhood memories.

T: Er..yes...honestly. That's what they are. Ahem. 9/10

 

   

Daniel Ash - Spooky (Psychobaby)

Hands up who remembers Bauhaus? Oh come on! Bela Lugosi's Dead? Whaddya mean you know he is? What about Ziggy Stardust? Yes I know it was Bowie but that was their biggest hit. Huh. Well thanks a bunch. I feel a right old git now. Anyway, Daniel Ash was the guitarist in Bauhaus. And they were great.

N: A fantastic cover, innovative mixes, but who did the original? I just can't think.

T: Wasn't it an old sixties song? Someone like Dusty Springfield? I don't know if that was the original but I'm sure she did it anyway. 7/10

 

   

Enemy Within - God Save The Queen (Lenny's Record Shop)

If you're going to commit gross anarchy, don't get caught doing it. I have to be honest, on face value I hated what this record appeared at first to represent. Well there's no better time than to jump onto a band wagon whose wheels were oiled 25 years ago by the original anarchist, Johnny 'Rotten', managed by 'businessman' Malcolm McClaren, than another jubilee. But take the trouble to flip vinyl under the needle and what a turn-around. This is not your average run of the mill stab at the monarchy and 'blue-blooded' classes, but everything corporate. From the inverted major label symbol adorning the sleeve, to the samples of various Pistol's less savoury moments, culminating in a rather 'raw' and unproduced expletive used mid-way through, maybe the only suggestion as to the originator is.
Concerned they maybe so as to keep their identities anonymous, as this commits more than just the treason and the unlicensed use of various samples. But a white label that just suggests at 'The Enemy Within' and one whose content is not just mere 'Parental Guidance', I was shocked, but to be honest the more I listened, the more I felt I was doing something naughty, something your Mum wouldn't approve of and that kind of feeling left me long ago. But does my colleague feel the same?

T: The Derek and Clive of anti-corporate techno. You could only get away with this as a one-off but it's rather an absorbing listen. To answer your question though, yes, I do feel as though I'm having a crafty fag behind the Maths mobile, and I grew into long trousers some years ago.

N: Any talk of prosecution here, due to plagiarism, would be, in my eyes, contradictory to the whole ethos that this was borne out of. 7/10

 

   

Flesh & Bones - I Love You (Multiply)

Apparently this was number one in the Belgian club charts for five weeks. How long will it remain on Atomicduster's playlist?

N: To adopt the description of a mix used here, minimalistic lyrics, but what there are, are used to good effect - "I love you, although you're a dare", and the looped synthesizers are just fantastic.

T: When I think of Europop, I think of blokes in trousers wearing white plimsols, Eiffel 65 and, ultimately, all kinds of cheese. This, to give it some credit, goes some way to eliminating this vision, but at the end of the day, to me it just sounds like Alice Deejay. 6/10

 

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