Single Reviews: December 2004


Elliott Smith - Pretty (Ugly Before) (Domino)

The sombring truth comes as you realise this is taken from Elliott's final album, and one that makes the fact that this was his greatest all the more saddening; but that the artist has left us a truly beautiful legacy makes this bitterest of pills easier to swallow.

T: I reckon you've just summed it up perfectly in the intro. This is an absolutely beautiful work of art that would put any of the Great Masters to shame if it were hanging next to them at the finest gallery in the world. Undoubtedly one of the best album releases of the year, it would have been able to bring tears to your eyes even before the man's untimely death.

N: As a soundtrack to a life, "Pretty Ugly Before" is quite perfect. In fact, I'd like to adopt these melodies! 11/10

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Fussible – No one over 21 (Sonic360)

A download only release available through iTunes. A number of different mixes available. It’s a funky, accessible track but doesn’t really do anything spectacular. Very cinematic and atmospheric but its tone is more an early evening bar tune rather than club tune. Best mix for me is the 'Capri' remix. 7/10

Nic Caesar

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Beastie Boys – An Open Letter To NYC (EMI)

A touching tribute to New York following 9/11 musically this is great, as you would expect from these ageing hip hopsters. As with the album not much to say as just good shit! Get it!! 9/10

Nic Caesar

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Lucky Jim - Lesbia (Skint)

A new ep intended to serve as a taster for the band's forthcoming second album, this release includes first album favourite "Lesbia" along with two new tracks: one original and one cover to whet fans' appetite.

N: As songwriting and performing goes, Lucky Jim are an extremely relevant contribution to music. This ep, if you needed an introduction to the band, is a very good place to start your education. Featuring the tune that is described as an album highlight, another that may be more familiar to Jeff Buckley fans, the Leonard cohen penned track "Hallelujah" abd "Somewhere Up Ahead" - a song that points to their second album - due for release in Spring 2005, this record emits a blinding light that acts as a beacon to just how qualified this group are.

T: I wouldn't necessarily disagree with you, but personally I have to admit that the track from the first album is by far the strongest here. I'm a big fan of Cohen's "Hallelujah", as I believe you are, in the guise of Buckley, but although this is a fair rendition, it pales in comparison to the original. I hate to say it as well, but I LOATHED the overblown strings on "Somewhere Up Ahead" to such an extent that they really started to irritate me. That said, it's obvious the craftsmanship in the songwriting department is extremely strong, and I probably would embrace a more stripped down version. Ultimately what I'm saying is that Lucky Jim are clearly a bright hope, but if I were them I'd switch producers next time. 7/10

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The [Real] Tuesday Weld – Bathtime in Clerkenwell (PIAS)

This band is really growing on me and this single has added to that growth massively. It is superbly delicate song writing and a mastery of melody that give this band a sound and a feel all their own. The greatest thing is the lyrical content, which is hard to describe but superb! Check it out!!! Released 6th December. Great video to go with this too! 9/10

Nic Caesar

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The Charlatans - Loving You Is Easy (MCA)

With such a claim levelled at the album from which this was taken, how will the Charlatans' latest fare with the atomicduster panel?

N: "The Charlatans finally release their masterpiece" - the comment Q Magazine made of "Up at the Lake". My opinion here is that maybe the album weaves a better story than this track does on its own. They've certainly grown up, but I have to admit that "Some Friendly" still packs more of a punch in my book.

T: Even so they're still eminently listenable, but their music seems to be following a more formulaic pattern these days. I don't mean that as a criticism; it's just that they were really quite different when they first burst into the nation's awareness. This track could be any number of the current crop of bands - the Delays, Snow Patrol and the like - although it does seem a bit wishy-washy to my ears. AND they've nicked the first line of Minnie Riperton's seventies smash! 6/10

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The Alarm - Close (Snapper)

The Alarm (aka the Poppyfields) certainly shocked when earlier this year they released their comeback album, "In The Poppyfields". Shock may not be strong enough an expessive statement when you learn that the group are currently supporting the Quo. But the does this fare?

T: If you can get past the fact that the band now sound ridiculously like U2, its really a very rewarding album, and this one was probably one of the strongest moments on it. You too?

N: They could well have got Bono in to guest on vocals here, and certainly a familiar but catchy melody greets; one that packs a punch in an eighties kind of way. This is U2 meets Simple Minds in the Breakfast Club!

T: You seem to be packing a lot of punches today. No question what YOU'VE got people for Christmas then...

N: No, in answer to that, it could well be that I was used as a punchbag this morning. 7/10

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