Single Reviews: December 2002

 

Chumbawamba - Jacob's Ladder (Not In My Name) (Mutt Records)

This folksy number from the band's "Readymades" album has been given a reworking lyrically to express their disgust at the warmongering of George W Bush and the embarrassing tail clinging of our supposed "leader" Tony Blair. Chumbawamba will also be publishing a 144 page magazine on December 9th in book form, containing articles on pop culture, Argentinian capitalist meltdown and radical art amongst many others. A review of this magazine can be found in these very pages.

N: 21st century "drummer boys", who once would have marched at the head of the troops to rally morale now have minds of their own, and go by the name of Chumbawamba. But this time instead of marching ahead of the slaughter, they parade a far greater field and speak their minds.

T: Always fiercely political, with the exception of the lager anthem that was "Tubthumping", Chumbawamba's ethics are difficult to disagree with. The only problem here is this - although I am largely in favour of political views within music, and believe it to be something which has been sadly lacking in the industry for some time, from what I can gather the vast majority of punters feel this way anyway, and for the others, this is hardly likely to change anyone's mind. Whether that was the intent of the band I'm not sure, but it certainly reinforces the image of Bush as the school bully and Blair sitting in the corner trembling and sucking his thumb while the president steals his cheese and pickle sandwiches. 7/10

 
 

 

Erasure - Solsbury Hill (Mute)

One of the most successful pop duos of all time, Vince Clarke and Andy Bell will be releasing an album full of other people's songs, entitled...er..."Other People's Songs". And we just LOVE cover versions at Atomicduster, don't we?

T: Ugh. I've just seen what you're getting out...

N: Oh, ok. Maybe later then. Onto the order of the day then, Jesus died for our sins, nailed upon a cross and left to die, but that Vince and Andy felt the need to do the same leaves me puzzled.

T: I have bad memories of Erasure. I never liked their cheesy hi-NRG sound (bloody hell, when was the last time you heard THAT phrase), and I was once dragged kicking and screaming by an ex-girlfriend to watch them perform at a local concert venue. Having just eaten, the last thing I needed to see was a rather pot-bellied Mr.Bell strip down to a rubber thong halfway through the set. I've never really forgiven him for that. I couldn't eat for days.

N: Have they not thought of trading in that DX7 and bringing their sound up to date with some new technology? Surely they haven't spent their ill gotten gains on wine, women (?) and song, but maybe the smoke machine blew the budget. 3/10

 
 

 

Looper - She's A Knife (Mute)

No press release to go on here, so make your own introduction up.

T: I like the fact that this sounds so dark and sleazy, although I'm not so keen on the fact that the vocals on the Ladytron vs Looper version sound very much like George Michael in his Wham! days. Then again, that probably makes it twice as sleazy, and blows the main version to smithereens. Then they ruin it all on the third track by sounding like Snap or 2 Unlimited or something.

N: This single surely features the mallet genius of Mr.Patrick Moore on the xylophone or similar ilk, but it is the tune, dammit, band, that I had quite unexpected. Where to place this? Alternative leaning towards the Saturday Students' Union Club Night. First track, lazy and doped up. Second track, dirty and E'd up, culminating in the way my compatriot said before, but I think now is the time to reintroduce him to an old friend. (Puts Snap album on).

T: (slowly) What the sodding hell do you think you're doing?

N: My comment is "Ten years on, it's still got it - "The Madman's Return".

T: Have you got any Bros?

N: I think they've been long turned into flowerpots. I think we really have lost the plot here.

T: Oh yes. The single... 8/10

 
 

 

The Streets - Don't Mug Yourself (Locked On)

Another late review for Mike Skinner, but hey, we at AD are big fans and we don't like to let class tunes slip through the net that easily.

T: Sounding enormously like an early Madness track from the "One Step Beyond" album but with a stonking great beatbox rhythm to compliment itself, this is Skinner's amusing take on his mates' advice not to try too hard to pull his dream girl at the local club. It almost feels as though Lee "Scratch" Perry has popped in to lend his support towards the end of the track too.

N: Alright so this may have been released a while ago now, but what a "band". 21st century artist of the year, totally original, lyrical brilliance, and far more to say than the Bloodhound Gang. B-side mixes of the earlier singles are worth checking out too.

T: Basically a cut above the rest. 9/10

 
 

 

Dannii Minogue - Put The Needle On It (London)

Whilst Kylie takes a break from the limelight, her little sis is supposed to be taking over as the number one Minogue in the chart stakes. How likely is she to achieve this? Our experts have been pondering this studiously, carefully and intelligently.

T: Well, Kylie's got a nicer arse, but at least Dannii's willing to get her norks out at the drop of a hat.

N: By far excellent production values, but is this really Dannii? Can't say it excites me terribly, nothing really here to set it apart, but obviously my partner here would appear to have other things on his mind. Do you not think it sounds like Five Star?

T: (bursts out laughing) Yes! It sounds exactly like them! That doesn't really bode well for her does it, considering what happened to them?! 6/10

 
 

 

Queenadrena - FM Doll (Rough Trade)

Having received widespread acclaim for their recent "Drink Me" album, Queenadrena release a completely new single to coincide with their UK tour.

T: Daisy Chainsaw meets the ghost of Wendy O'Williams and packs a wicked sucker punch that only psychopaths and suicidal types would see fit to stand in the way of.

N: Throw in Babes In Toyland and you've got the complete picture. This band are exhilerating, and quite unashamed. We've not seen their sort for a while.

T: The second track, "Kissing My Disgrace" sounds like one of Tori Amos's darker moments, and overall the single is a reminder that all is not lost in the music world. 9/10

 
 

 

Space - Zombies (Mutant Records)

Returning after a two year absence, those Scouse scallies will be releasing a new album, "Suburban Rock & Roll" early in 2003. But before that, let's put the single to the test.

N: This is obviously a grower, as on first listen I was a little disappointed, but this time round, it's a totally different tune. Having sampled certain tracks from the group's forthcoming album, I would conclude though that this is not the strongest of what's on offer.

T: I would have to wholeheartedly agree with you there. On the other hand though, you can't really knock the band for doing what they know best. Let's face it, Space have made their name with the kind of quirky pop that amuses at first, gets your toes tapping for a week are so and then becomes overbearingly irksome (see "Female of the Species", "The Ballad of Tom Jones" and "Me and You Versus the World"), so it makes sense to come back to the scene with more of the same, after all it's never harmed them before. Somehow though, my instincts tell me that they won't be embraced back into the music world quite so warmly this time around. A case of maybe having had their best days - quite sadly in fact, going by the strength of some of the stuff we've just heard.

N: Space - the final frontier...

T: That is so cheesy!

N: That's just my feet mate, but I've not finished. Obviously not lost, but will they be on the rest of the world? 7/10

 
 

 

Vega 4 - Drifting Away Violently (Taste)

This ep, the follow up to the successful debut "Better Life" is limited to 1000 copies, so get your paws on it quickly if you want a copy.

T: This band sounds remarkably like Spirit of the West to me.

N: I don't much care who this band may or may not sound like, but "fantastic" comes to mind whatever, vibrant and lyrically alive, vocalist John McDaid is well suited to this outfit.

T: I'm not denying that this is a well produced, well written single, but I can't help feeling ultimately that I've heard it all before. "Nice" is the only word that I could possibly use to describe it - anything more would be pushing the boat out - although it's probably quite pleasant to sleep to.

N: What rattled your cage? I SAID later, and that's a promise.

T: You're frightening me now.

N: I think it's frightened the missus - she's hiding under the sofa in the front room. 7/10

 
 

 

X Is Loaded - Thirteen Days (Boss Music)

A band hailing from Bath in the West of England, their group possess the claim to fame of being fronted by who is described as the "criminally razor-sharp of cheekbone' Jake Robertson, why that should interest all but the youngest of nubile fans I'm unsure, but someone thought it was relevant so here goes "oooo, Jake, ooo, your cheek bones are so, oooo!"

T: This band have been championed by both XFM and MTV2 of late, and while it's easy to see why, I'd be surprised if they made too many major inroads to the heart of the nation. It seems to be more of an "outside" song than an inside one, if you understand what I mean. Am i gibbering inanely or do you get that?

N: So perhaps one that's released on December 2nd might not match here, do something else in the meantime and release it six months later then?

T: Exactly, and play it to the sun worshipping hoardes at Glastonbury. Or should that be "mud worshipping"?

N: No, "cheekbone worshipping" actually. 7/10

 
 

 

Bird - Early EP (Ice Cream Records)

Lead member of bird, Janie Price has been playing musically from an early age. Apparently from playing a cello like a strangled cat in youth orchestras, to learning drums and breaking sticks in many London venues, Price has finally decided in 2002 to concentrate on solely her own project - and this is the resultant release.

N: It's unfair to pitch Janie in with any of the current female singer/songwriters but I'm sure this is what will happen. The first point worth noting is that this ep features four totally original songs - no mixes, no covers, something that in itself seems totally original today.

T: Actually I wasn't going to compare bird to ANY of the current crop, my thinking being that Janie is more in the Joni Mitchell mould than that of Sheryl Crow et al. It's a refreshingly laid back sound, beautifully observed instrumentation and a smooth voice to die for. Nominations for next year's Mercury Music Prize anyone?

N: Fair comment, I'm glad you had the vision to see beyond the recent crop. Janie produces music that's easy to accept and should certainly be nominated. A well timed album would certainly be of help.

T: The only problem with this review is that we haven't said anything funny. Can I say the word "Pooh"?

N: You certainly can, but I would fear that readers, when scanning these pages would see this comment and associate it with the artist.

T: Pooh. 9/10

 
 

 

Troublemakers - Get Misunderstood (PIAS Recordings)

A three piece from Marseilles who are influenced by funk, blaxploitation, sixties movie soundtracks, old school hip-hop and jazz amongst other things are, let's face it, going to be a little odd. But then again, we're a little odd ourselves, so this should appeal to us...

N: You took the words right out of my mouth, but who am I kidding? Yeah, like a breath of fresh air, or stale if you consider that the roots are late forties and before, but I digress. The text that is used in places here is spoken here in French, so he could be reading the shopping list, I wouldn't have a clue, but it sounds good.

T: But two out of three ain't bad - I mean, basing your sound around old time classics like "Ol' Man River" or "Mammy" gives you bonus points in my book, and completely confusing the listener by speaking nonsensically in a foreign language doubles them.

N: So to go on stage as an overweight, rather sweaty rock dinosaur would presumably take you to multiple proportions then?

T: Are you having a dig? Look, I don't know who you are but you're a real dead ringer for love...actually that one doesn't really make much sense, does it?

N: I think we'd better get out of here before things start turning totally pear shaped.

T: I just think we ought to get out more.

N: Fair enough. 8/10

 
 

 

Millionaire - Champagne (PIAS Recordings)

Millionaire hail from the land of chocolate body lotion and waffles. The video for the single is the much acclaimed short film "Easy Money", and the band fought off stiff competition from both the Beastie Boys and the Rolling Stones for the privilege to use it. Presumably the Stones aren't cutting edge enough for director Phil Dussol nowadays, and probably turned down the Beasties because he used to have a Volkswagen or something.

N: "Millionaire - on tour with Queens of the Stone Age", who are these kidding? These ARE QOSTA, well convince the record company you've got support and get paid twice!

T: I haven't been able to think of Belgium without laughing since hearing Vic Reeves' version of "Vienna" where he opens the song by geographically incorrectly stating "I know a place in a foreign land, name of Belgium. The water stinks...but the people think...they think that it doesn't. They think that it doesn't, but it does, I'm telling you it stinks", and then goes off on a ludicrous rant about the Belgian police inventing the waltzer. Hmmm. Anyway, to the record in question, and yes, it is enormously like our willy dangling friends, but this does it no harm whatsoever and squeezes your nipples until they become firmly erect.

N: No, that's just me mate. Sorry.

T: Wha? Uurgh no! Getoffofme!

N: No, I like Belgian bands. This is so much like Deus - how? Well slightly odd - if you tilt your head 37 degrees to the left...or is that just me?

T: No, that's just me mate. Sorry.

N: But having taken our medication, and back on track, perhaps "sublime" is an apt description. 8/10

 
 

 

Jori Hulkkonen - All I See Is Shadows (F Communications)

The first single from the album "Different", Hulkkonen takes "a melange of mesmerising grooves that adopt the Detroit ethos as a starting point, but which then twist to his own agenda". I couldn't possibly have put that better than the press release does, so judge for yourselves. In the meantime, we have sobered up.

N: An exotic name fronts this release, but hailing from Finland rather than Folkestone might go some way to explaining why. Spacious sound fills the room, but lacking in lyrical content, it is obvious Jori is waiting for his next English Dictionary installment from Readers Digest.

T: It's alright if you're a fan of doing nothing, or if you're one of those people who checks the front door's locked, gets halfway down the road and then has to go back and check that the door's locked again. Then gets to the end of the drive and has to go back to check the door's locked. Then gets to (ok, ok I think you get the picture). Personally I find jigsaw puzzles slightly more exciting than this.

N: Did you lock the back door?

T: Are you going off on a tangent again?

N: Nice sounds, just a little too repetitive. 5/10

 
 

 

The Last Post - Something Tells Me (PIAS Recordings)

The Last Post are part of the burgeoning Dublin underground music scene, and are releasing a limited edition 2 track 7" of this single on December 16th. Featuring guest vocals from David Kitt, this is a taste of what's to come from one of Ireland's most promising young musical talents.

T: Hang on a minute! Did he just sing "makes me camel dung"?!

N: No mate. Guess that could be "makes me come undone".

T: That's a pity. Kind of spoils the effect a little. You're using the word "mate" a lot today mate. Does this remind you of Donny Osmond?

N: Let's rock! ... mate. Seriously now, I think so much more could have been done with this single, but then again it wouldn't have been the same band. Perhaps a grower, and definitely one for the end of the fourth year disco, fumblings in a darkened room, jumpers for goalposts...it's happening again - I think I need my tablets.

T: I'm sorry. It's just that I can see a bunch of pint sized munchkins swaying from side to side behind Donny whilst an open fire blazes like an old style Top of the Pops "special effect". I preferred the Bay City Rollers anyway. Just kidding. 5/10

 
 

 

Dave Clarke - The Wolf (Skint)

Deep down in that house called club an artist by the name of Dave Clarke struggles to retain his own idententity and cast away those voices that forever ask him on the phone "oh, are you the Dave Clarke, the drumer from that sixties band?". "No I'm bloody not!" So anyway as we tuck away those old vinyl recordings lifted from our parents record collections and hang our heads in shame, who exactly is this Dave Clake of the disco variety? Tone...?

T: Only one of the most famous DJ's of the last ten years, but then again you never had the 'benefit' of a spaced out, loved up lodger banging out his pumping tunes from his bedroom next door!

N: So that was all that Mark was banging then?

T: Well he's got a little girl now. Daughter that is!

N: Oh, that would explain the need for loud pumping tunes then. And you're telling me you never heard a thing?

T: Back to the record and with little imagination you could put Richard Whitely's theme tune over the top of this, wasn't his daughter a 'space cadet'?

N: I think you're right there, but I can't remember her name or tune, now that's indicative of the music scene, but Dave? 8/10

 
 

 

The D4 - Come On (Infectious)

Sheep, sheep everywhere and not a woman on two legs in sight. Kiwi rockers The D4 were recently announced as winners of the best international acheivement award in the New Zealand annual music awards...

N: So that was a hard fought after title then?

T: Yeah, somewhat like my band being nominated as runners up for Leicester's life time acheivement trophy behind Showaddywaddy, by the way have we reviewed a new D4 single every month for the last, life time?

N: Punk sensibilities, but not my bag I'm affraid. 6/10

 
 

 

Stag - Low Watt Glow (KarmaLion)

Peter Hobbs and Andy Burrows have spent alot of their life in toilets, having played in alot of them over the last five years. However this payed off after the bands first performance under the name 'Stag' at the Dublin Castle, when they were spotted and signed by new indie label 'KarmaLion' - an off shoot of dance label ' KarmaGiraffe'. What kind of karma did our reveiwers acheive?

T: Well it starts off sounding very much like Adorable, which can only be a good thing in my eyes.

N: Starts, continues and rocks. I'd just love to venture into the inner sanctum of the label's office's, joss stick anyone?

T: This being 'being spotted and signed' makes it sound just too easy, but Stag have certainly got it where it counts. Score anyone? 8/10

 
 

 

Ceasars - Fun and Games (Dolores)

4 track CD single from Virgin signed artists is over before it even begins, so making any sort of judgement is a difficult task. ?"How does the second track, 'Crackin' Up' shape up?

T: Certainly better than the first. 'Fun and Games' started pleasantly enough, then got boring after only a minute. I think perhaps the band realised this and ceased their Fun and Games just in time to save what audience remained.

N: Can't disagree there, but now where onto 'Only You', no not Moyet and Clarke, but certainly Sumner and Hook. I do think they have taken their earlier tune to heart though and before they're even through the door, turn tail and scarper!

T: Sounds very mid to late eighties to me. Maybe my 'Farahs' will come back into fashion?

N: You're hoping! Track two should've been the single though. 6/10

 
 

 

Star Spangles - Which of the Two of Us is Gonna Burn This House Down? (Parlophone)

New Yorkers Ian and Tommy avoided the daily grind of 'clocking-on' and paying their 'Union dues' by taking jobs at 'Kim's Video'. This spawned the useful meeting of like mind, drummer Nick Price and The Star Spangles were born.

N: Nothing terribly original, but full of spark and New York punk vigor to boot.

T: Didn't we review The D4 earlier?

N: Yeah, but this is nothing like country boys, The D4. This is urban; streets full of piss, Warhol and Magazine, all rolled out to greet the tourists, I'm quite impressed. Have I changed your mind?

T: I never said I didn't like it, but the Star Spangles are not the first act this month to have realeased a single whose B-side is far superior to the show piece.

N: Ok and they went as far as morning assembly for their name. But I loved the sweets. 7/10

 
 

 

Gus Gus - David (Underwater Records)

From the heart of Iceland's capital Reykjavik, Gusgus return with this, the second single to be taken from their album "Attention".

N: "David", remixes to, suit the mood. Loud, spacious and probably best tranced or danced to than made love to, unless you're in the toilets at the time, that is.

T: Gotta be honest, I probably would have gone to the toilet to escape this song. You just asked me, off the record to bang a few lines down and then we'll mark the single, well, I'd NEED to bang a few lines down to enjoy this. 5/10

 
 

 

The Libertines - Time For Heros (Rough Trade)

One of the busiest bands of the year, The Libertines are hoping for a third successive top 40 hit with this release.

T: Sounds like Badly Drawn Boy fronting The Clash...

N: Wouldn't necessarily say The Clash, or Damon Gough, but certainly a raw spirit reminiscent of late seventies punk. 7/10

 
 

 

Rolling Stones - Don't Stop (Label)

They put the gross nationasl product of Colombia up their noses in 1968, but how do Mick and the boys fare in this latest release from grandad rockers the Rolling Stoned...er...Stones?

T: I'll tell you how they've fared - they've turned into Elton John.

N: Surely this could not be mistaken for anyone else but Mick and his boys. Nothing new there then. Same formula, let's just hope they've changed their underpants.

T: Personally I preferred them when they didn't. 5/10

 
 

 

Jetplane Landing - Els Quatre Gats (Yogaboy)

This band will need little introduction to regular readers of this website as we have been championing them for some time.

N: A shining star close to the end of this bunch, Jetplane Landing no longer sounding like the Blue Aeroplanes have come across a copy of the Pixies 'Surfer Roser' and written this ballsy affair full of gusto.

T: It's also very satisfying to note that, whilst "Zero For Conduct" was a majestically brilliant album, the band have obviously moved on now. A remarkably rousing ep, especially the wonderfully shouty "Lights Out". 9/10

 
 

 

Badly Drawn Boy - Born Again (Twisted Nerve)

Scheduled for release in the New Year, another one for Gough to add to his ever expanding profile.

T: A jaunty little number that will do him no harm whatsoever, and I'd be surprised if it doesn't present him with his biggest hit single yet.

N: Not another version of "You Were Right", Damon doesn't let the grass grow under his feet and is already receiving more than his share of airplay.

T: And may we keep it that way. 9/10

 
 

 

Gold Chains - The Game (PIAS Recordings)

The first time I heard this track I didnt think much of it. Having listened to it a few times I found myself really getting into it. I was humming the vocal melody all day. Gold Chains has been described as many things to music and I can confirm his music is different and unpredictable. The Game draws on elements from hip hop, funk and breakbeat and the catchy vocal hook manages to fuse all of these together to create a track that pitches and sways throughout. Its difficult to pigeon hole this track and I like that. The original mix is the most radio friendly but the club mix doesnt quite rise to the occasion as it doesnt seem to have any real focus or energy. The Luomo mix on the other hand is interesting as it takes the track in a different direction and gives it a more minimal deep and funky house feel. Reminds me of dark backroom moments getting deep and funky with a large JD on the rocks.

Gold chains has been doing the rounds in the UK for a while now and is creating a buzz. He recently appeared on John Peels Radio One show and back in September received good reviews from his supporting performance at the Medicine Bar with Kid 606 in Birmingham. I think we will be hearing more from Gold Chains in the UK over the next few years although he heads back to his home town San Fran for the end of the year... AFTER that is playing at the Barfly in Camden on December 12th.

Nic Caesar - The Funkaholics (Off The Wall) 7/10

 
 


© Copyright 2000/7 Atomicduster - all rights reserved