Single Reviews: September 2004

 

U2 - Vertigo (Island)

If you've not heard this already then you very soon will, of that this is assured and what else can I say but WOW. The band return after 4 years since their last album ('All That You Can't Leave Behind'), with a sound that will certainly shock if nothing else and leave you wondering, are these some hot young things, or is it, naah! Bono's vocals are presented here with his usual effortless swagger, but the Edge is handing his 'axe' with a new found 'edge'. Yes it's Edge and features all the usual 'edge'isms', but this time his guitar comprises a rawness previously unheard of outside of the heaviest metal.

Apart from these factors that seem so fresh to the arena of U2, the band have managed to retain the major side of their sound and does at times possess a feel reminiscent of their early days. Quite frankly, this is a band who seem reinvigorated and never once show signs of a group who are ready to stop, but the truth will out once their forthcoming album, 'How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb' due November 2004, is heard. 10/10

Nick James

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FatBoy Slim - SlashDotDash (Skint)

I'll get the nice stuff out the way first shall I? The production is good, as you would expect from the FatBoy!

Well then, what a load of pants!!! It is well written and produced, but I havent heard such an annoying track since Ö.. well never!!! To top it off it was already at number 6 in Japan last week. I think that says it all. It will be a success but only through its gimmick value!!! Its just trashy pop in my eyes and doesnt sit well in the Fatboy back catalogue!!!

4/10

Nic Caesar

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Geezers of Nazareth – Gold Rush (Bored?)

Already owners of the best band name of the last five years (or is it just the silliest?), Geezers of Nazareth have released a cool dance tune that begins like an old Smokey Robinson and the Miracles number but eventually finds its vocation in late seventies disco. In fact, you can easily imagine this track donning a pair of “Shaft” shades and a dazzling bright white “Saturday Night Fever” suit!

It amuses me though that the radio edit of the single is just 16 seconds shorter than the other featured version – surely they could have got away with that!

The other tune here, “Hard Bloke”, owes more to early reggae and ska (especially the Trojan label) than it does to anything else. All in all it works pretty well, if not entirely my bag. 7/10

Tone E

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Brakes - I Can’t Stand To Stand Beside You ((tugboat)

I have to start this review just how the pr came to me and that is “PLEASE NOTE: TRACK 2 IS THE SINGLE FOR AIRPLAY!!!” 26 seconds of ‘Pick Up The Phone (and that’s all there is) and anyone would be forgiven for letting the machine take the call, but this is exactly why the pr made it so apparent that it was track 2, not the first and certainly not the last that should be considered - but more of that later.

An interesting moulding of a group coming in the form of members of British Sea Power, Tenderfoot and Electric Soft Parade, a summer holiday of a band coming as they do from Brighton, but on this occasion minus the peir, perhaps this group were responsible in some way? But back to the track I should consider and this is almost mesmerising, until the 4 guys crank up the gas and pour mouten iron into the mould.

I’d subscribe, interesting concept and sounds you wouldn’t exactly fall asleep to. But what of the 3rd track? Well considering the entire CD lasts just a little more than 4 minutes and the single itself is 3’ 25”, well you’ve heard about track 1, do the maths, that’s barely enough time to pluck a guitar! 7/10

Nick James

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Auf der Maur - Taste You (EMI)

Answering the question; Is there life after the super group? Melissa Auf der Maur, strides from the shadow of her former incarnations ‘Smashing Pumpkins’ and ‘Hole’ with her own macabre rock daemon. This new single is almost disturbing in its content, once you venture beneath the awesome power of its music. I quote “...come to me, plug it in, so I can digest you...”, and this is just the start of it. I can only wonder at the character she is creating here, some powerful image of necrophilia? Or maybe that’s my own sick mind. Whichever way this turns out to be, this is one powerful performance. 9/10

Nick James

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Chungking – Making Music (Gut Records)

It’s well produced enough, calling to mind Spooks, or a less experimental Portishead, but the fact is that this just doesn’t excite me.

Sure, it’s pleasant enough, but it just seems to amble on without ever reaching my head or my heart, and it doesn’t send the adrenaline pumping either.

Don’t get me wrong – this is quite a “nice” tune, and the 4Hero remix is far superior to the one they have chosen to put out. It’s just that, every time I play it, I sit here thinking “Yes, well…that was…ok..I guess…” 5/10

Tone E

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Polly Paulusma – Over the Hill (One Little Indian)

One of the highpoints of Polly’s recent “Scissors In My Pocket” album was this simple yet intelligent take on life down South. The more I hear it, the more it reminds me – musically at least – of the late, great Janis Joplin. Ms Paulusma has also chosen to include here one of the other most appealing numbers from her album, “Perfect 4/4”, but this is an alternate version with strings that really is quite charming.

Well, what can I say? I already knew the tracks here were very good, but the absence of any new material prevents her AD rating from being as high as it should. 7/10

Tone E

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Muse – Butterflies and Hurricanes (Taste / Atlantic)

You will already be aware of the high esteem that I hold Muse’s masterpiece “Absolution” in. You may even remember that I said this was my favourite track on the album…

Well, I still think it’s fantastic, although I keep changing my mind about “best track” on it, and that honour currently falls to the incredible single “Hysteria”.
Anyway, as you would expect, this is an electrically charged, emotional adrenaline pumper of a tune complete with the overly theatrical presentation we are now accustomed to from Matt and the boys.

However, it’s disappointing to hear a fine song such as this one cut off so abruptly on the radio edit of the single, plus we always knock a band’s rating down a little when they release any more than 3 singles from one album (the proverbial “milking it” – although, admittedly, it’s a damn impressive cow) so I’m left with no option but to knock a couple of points off the end product! 8/10

Tone E

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The Concretes - Seems Fine (Licking Fingers/EMI)

The band who’s eponymously titled debut album was reviewed in our June issue and bore the comment from our deputy editor; “... The Concretes are not a band you’re going to be “moshing” to at the front of a University Hall somewhere.” Although this single is upbeat in a kind of early eighties school disco kind of way, with the B-side the band are back to audiences gathered at the foot of their stage, sat down and waiting to entertained.

‘Seems Fine’, is a catchy slice of retro pop that I’m sure if it’s not done so already from repeated radio airplay, will nestle nicely in your head, alongside the ‘to do list’ and ‘what tonight’s dinner will be’? In its just broad of 2 minutes content, the single really does not go anywhere special and I’ve no idea what vocalist Victoria Bergsman is trying to say, but quite nice and inoffensive all the same, although may have a tendency to ultimately annoy. 6/10


Nick James

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The Boxer Rebellion - Code Red (Poptones)

With Tennessee born vocalist Nathan Brown at their helm, this London based four piece are able to claim that Alan McGee spotted these guys in the new band tent at Glastonbury and following a request to perform at his Death Disco night, subsequently signed the band to his ‘Poptones’ label. Well with Poptones now having formed a long term partnership with major label Mercury for some of their acts, ‘Code Red’ will be the first to utilise this relationship.

I can see what McGee heard in this band, as they are in essence what might be termed the classic post-Creation sound. With searing guitars and a vocalist who’s powerful performance is able to convey ‘need’ in a vocal slide to ‘urgency’ in a wailing scream. An album is due for release in February 2005. 7/10

Nick James

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Mansun - Slipping Away (Parlophone)

With the announcement that following their forthcoming album ‘Kleptomania’, the mighty Mansun will be splitting, comes this, the final single release from the band and it will not disappoint. It’s good to hear that instead of retiring to the wings with a whimper, the band who have so far released 3-albums show that they have still got what it takes in producing rock filled pop. ‘Slipping Away’ the title track is a typically Mansun’esque tune, whereas the flip-side is an edgy rock filled number. It is certain that the “King of all cult bands”, although sadly missed will still remain an influential force to be reckoned with. 9/10

Nick James

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Clayhill - Northern Soul (Eat Sleep)

Taken from their forthcoming and debut album ‘Small Circle’, ‘Northern Soul’ is not just a musical fashion, movement and the latest single from Clayhill, but is also a short film in with the group have collaborated with writer and director Shane Meadows, the film will be shown prior to the bands forthcoming live dates in October.

Ok, so with the blurb taken care of, what of the single? Well this is a nice little number, with a close calling I felt to the sounds of The Verve. Musical production is given a very loose feel in the space it allows the music to breath, and although this won’t move any mountains and is certainly not a ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’, it also won’t infringe any copyright and it has to be said, t’he band will definitely found their demographic. 8/10

Nick James

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22-20s - 22 days (Heavanly)

"Atomic powered rock and roll", heralds the press for this, the latest single from the 22-20's and one that will beat to the chase their new album to be released a week later. 3 minutes, ok 2'59" of pure dynamite, 'Reef' had a bloody good try, but these guys just do it one hell of a lot better to my mind. Then you start to read to words in the song, and 'BANG!', off goes the detonator. This is as pure a rock'n'roll song as you're gonna get, then as abruptly as it came in, it's over. Whoa, these guys know how to write 'em. "Atomic" powered, well at least they're in good company! 10/10

Nick James

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Adem - Ringing In My Ear (Domino)

The second single to be taken from his debut 'Homesongs' album and would appear to herald a series of live performances Adem is preparing, throughout the month of October and kicking of on September 30th at the Barfly in York. The title track here is a song of easy refrain and one I cannot escape recognising 'Babybird's' Stephen Jones in its presentation. To be honest when I describe an "easy refrain", it runs throughout the singles additional tracks, all of which are new songs, with a total of 3 that will run across both the 7" and CD.

I love the line in which he sings, ..."I toasted marshmellows, while you burned our bridges down...", it's just the wonderful imagary this singer/songwriter brings to the fore that I think appeals so much. But it doesn't stop here, with a musical palette that utilises a combination of rhythm guitar and percussion, that seat so perfectly with the singers own presentaion and words.

To peg this artist as just another of the 'nu-folkie' bunch would be criminal in itself, as it's not this that will at first come to mind on hearing this artists lazy 'tomorrow-will-do' vareity of love-songs. 9/10

Nick James


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Johnny Panic – Burn Your Youth (Concept)

This is not really my specialism but these guys just don’t sound all that together! Not the next Franz Ferdinand for sure. Guitar based bandy stuff with no real stuff!!! But hey what do I know! 4/10

Nic Caesar

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Detroit Cobras - Cha Cha Twist (Rough Trade)

Apparently this tune has been snaffled by the Coca Cola Corporation to promote their fattening, teeth rotting fizzy drink (which sadly I still love), so have the band already sold out, before any of us have even heard of them?

T: I'm sure Bill Hicks would have hailed them the anti-Christ for that tidbit of information, and maybe they are. Musically however, as cliched as it may sound, I don't think I've ever heard ANYONE sound quite so much like Patti Smith without even trying. It's an ok helping of rock 'n' roll, and whilst it ain't gonna set the world alight, it's certainly preferable to that bloody awful "Cha Cha Slide" that reached number one earlier this year!

N: Bill Hicks, hmm...now you say that, I can't get out of my head that routine - "Drink Coke"...but anyway, that's for another time. I actually really like this single; it's dizzy and infectious, and Meg White's involvement is blatantly clear. Whether it's better for it I can't say. This is just so good. 7/10

 
 

 

Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue (Parlophone)

What with their debut album - also called "Ocean Avenue" - having recently been certified platinum in the States, and fresh from three sellout shows in London, you could say things are going rather well for Yellowcard. But then, they haven't encountered the AD reviewing team yet...

N: This band really surprised me when I reviewed this album. I wouldn't usually go for this, but the band's particularly breezy brand of eassy rock is definitely most palatable. And Tone, go on, rip it to shreds, I dare you.

T: No, I agree, but I think this is far from the best track on the album, sounding like a hybrid of Blink 182, Sum 41, Hundred Reasons and umpteen other purveyors of the emo scene. It's listenable but not much more.

N: Fair enough. 6/10

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The Music - Freedom Fighters (Virgin)

Taken from their forthcoming second album, "Welcome to the North", this single is released in early September as a forerunner to their 11 date UK tour.

T: Hey, it's THEIR song and they're sticking to it, ok? I remember hearing "Take the Long Road and Walk It", and buying the debut album on the strength of it. I was somewhat disappointed that they'd pretty much put out a record with a dozen versions of the same song. Looks like they've decided to release a few more versions then...

N: Touche! Cliched cock rock. I heard this about ten years ago, only it was Reef playing the tune at that time. Is it like the communal smoke? Are they just passing this tune around?

T: Well, I guess if it works for them... 4/10

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Gomez - Sweet Virginia (Virgin)

A "swampy ballad of subtle beauty" is how this new single has been described. It's the third track to be deemed fit for plucking from their fourth album.

T: I like Gomez in general. The problem is, this sounds like a track that was rejected by Radiohead to me, on the grounds that it sounded too much like John Denver.

N: Interesting you should say that. The band appear to be trying out several new sounds, and of those I have heard lifted from their current album, it's this I have warmed to the most. A lazy and absorbing tune, and one I can say IS Gomez. Thank you, you've come home.

T: Another discrepancy! I wouldn't give this more than six. 6/10

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Mando Diao - Sheepdog (Majesty)

The popular Swedish band, having broken Europe big time, turn their attentions to dear old Blighty.

N: That riff sounds familiar, but having learnt they are a band hailing from Sweden, now I can't get the images of Ulrika Jonsson out of my head. But those images aside, this is Euro rock. It doesn't flow and I just feel that the band are trying just too hard. Well with thoughts of Ulrika, can you blame them?

T: I also felt they were trying too hard...and perhaps trying to be too "rebellious" too. I mean, I can understand why they want to do this. After all, they've seen their fellow countrymen - the magnificent Hives - break into the UK music scene effortlessly, so it only follows that they will try to sound like them. Their one drawback is that they just ain't as good. But Ulrika? She's far too much of a slapper for me to bother about.

N: I think that's perhaps going a LITTLE too far! 5/10

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Radio 4 - Absolute Affirmation (City Slang)

From the new album "Stealing of a Nation", this track was recorded in the band's home town of New York City, and apparently "encapsulates the thrill of an impending Saturday night, the over-indulgence that frequently accompanies it and the regret that typically follows". Sounds interesting.

N: Now Radio 4 may be just be the band to break this current swathe of disappointing reviews. Not the best track to be lifted from their debut album, but that said, not far off it. But you'd have to agree that once this gets started, it's going to be a hard train to stop.

T: Musically, this calls to mind mid-point Blondie, and several other late seventies/early eighties new wave artists, which pleases me to be honest, because they've stopped trying (and failing) to sound like The Clash. This is, indeed, a fine single. But, like you say, not a classic.

N: I agree with your comment regarding the 70s/80s influence. In fact, I'd even go as far to say that the single features a feeling close to that of Kraftwerk, the CD featuring a set of add-on mixes. 8/10

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Razorlight - Vice (Mercury)

Apparently Johnny Borrell has included his mobile telephone number in this track, so fans can leave a message on his voicemail, and he can get back to them! Is this just a cool guy being ultra friendly, or is he just a despicable attention seeker?

T: I think I'd better let YOU do the pant wetting here, seeing as this is my least favourite track on the whole album.

N: It's probably just me, but Johnny might have styled himself as a current Jarvis Cocker. No bad thing, although as you say it's your least favourite track on the album, I don't mind. It's a nice track containing pent up energy ready to pounce, and a sleazy refrain that's appealing.

T: I don't know, the whole thing sounds a bit twee to me. 7/10

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Minus - Here Comes the Night (Smekkleysa)

This Icelandic band are currently working on their fourth album, in between Main Stage appearances at the Reading and Leeds festivals.

T: I can see by your face you're not hugely impressed by this. Thing is, you're making the same mistake I did when I first played this band - I played it quietly. Honestly, that is the key to your enjoyment of this group. They are a band who demand to be played loudly. Their impact multiplies by one hundred when the decibels are cranked up a notch. This tune is short and sweet, and a great one to drive to.

N: I'm not disagreeing with you (is that blood I see oozing from your ears?). Either way, I actually LIKE this band. Cock rock comes to mind (again) but there's cocks and there's the cocks THESE guys are waving in our faces. It's a very well exercised single. What more can I say? These guys ROCK!

T: So what you're saying is that you...um...LIKE these guys' cocks?

N: Er...metaphorically of course.

T: Oh. Of course. 8/10

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