SINGLE OF THE MONTH 1
Numbers On The Board
Where the capturing of feel, and then its brutal disfigurement through studio surgery, creates a whole new feel, something closer to the way we are, pilgrims between two technologies that become more dependent on each other the longer (and it'll never be long enough) the track goes on. Not just about the beat, but about the percussion too, like 'Come Clean'. Yup, THAT essential. Pusha's rhymes aren't great but his voice is possessed of the right level of epiphanic confidence riding such a future-ripping chassis - hats off to Kanye for moulding this monster (and the stunning drop in of Jay-Z's 'Rhyme No More' in the middle) and fuck trap beats forever.
Absolutely addictive Bug-style (but way way stoopider) mayhem from Portugal on the mighty DJ Hazard's label - big beats so loud they actually hurt, big bass that isn't gonna help you out of the pain-vortex any time soon , vocals that sound lobotomized and all produced with a totally hooligan eye on dancefloor bedlam. Like Guzzla's similarly eardrum-blading 'Funkslap' (on Infared and out now) this is so damn perfect for the party it makes you want to paraglide down the k-hole on a pocketful of pixie-dust. Dive Dive Dive.
Justin TimberlakeTunnel Vision
'Mirrors' was a brilliant number 1 - even though at times it sounded almost like an algebraic exercise in stacking up as many classic boybandballad moments as possible it worked dammit, proof being that it's in there now, in your head, ready for instant recall for the rest of your life, perhaps more than anything else he's given us this side of 'Sexy Back'. 'Tunnel Vision' is more of an obvious album track, looser, sounding like something set in motion that JT simply improvised over, more about J-Rocc's slick and lurid production (love the reversed strings) than any identifiable hook. As a consequence I predict in at number 3, then a steady drop back into the nether reaches before a total dissappearance. I also predict seeking the album on the strength of this. The boy done good.
Set You Free/Gorilla Force
Not that fussed with 'Set You Free' (Stepa's vocals don't add to what would be a great instrumental) but flip this for the fantastic 'Gorilla Force' from dubstep vet Distance that goes from subtle aquatic dread to doomy aggravation 55 seconds in, as soon as this magnificent lionesque growling bassline starts reaching up inside you, and the synths take on the melodic poignancy and icey grip of something outta Detroit. Dark as the arts get.
Speaking of the sound of motor city, here's Rockwell with a track that manages to condense 20 odd years of Detroit techno history into one head-wrecking rush, the ghosts of the Belleville 3 and Jeff Mills stalking the frenetic textures, deep sub-bass and jittering funk-futurism like this has lain undiscovered in a +8/UR basement until now. Love the smash-n-grabness and sheer racket of this plus the way it takes high-minded American music and simply smears it into a crushed rush for European dancefloors - just wish I had an old 16rpm record deck, would love to hear what this would sound like mogadon-style with a cup of cocoa and a nice sit-down. It's not that I don't want to be the old guy in the club. I have been the old guy in the club, no problem there so long as I can find the right dank corner to hide my eyes and the lines around them in. It's just in 2013, I simply don't want to be in a club anymore. People go there, it'll only get regrettable.
Best Of Friends
The sound of what happens when you call the Liberfkntines 'legends', 'iconic' and 'one of the greats' repeatedly for over a decade. Thrice diluted piss.
Inexcusable in lots of ways and in a year that's given us 'Get Lucky' our retro-disco jollies should have been sated already but there's just something compelling about the textures Fernando deals with on his 'Float' album, something deeply pleasurable about the beats and the sharp bass that propels 'Hang On' along with a monomaniacal motoring drive, makes the moments where all absconds for a nano-second's silence all the more joyful when they're obliterated by the perma-motion machines he's set in motion. Every single one of his tracks has the structural build of King Curtis' 'Memphis Soul Stew' ("Give me about a half a teacup - of bass/ Now I need a pound of fat back drums") but no matter no mind no problem - always thought that 'predictability' is a damn stupid thing to criticise music for and those that do reach for such cliched pejoratives betray their essential lack of understanding of what music's all about. To a massive extent most of our enjoyment of music comes from being able to predict it, that luscious bliss when a track does what YOU want it to do when YOU want it to do it, makes the same choices you would at the same time you would. Fernando knows this, rubs his blubber round the corners of your expectations with a frictive delight making 'Hang On' as good a fat slice of fun as Styles Of Eye's 'Norway' from a coupla years back or Kry Wolf's 'The Flood' from a coupla months back. You've heard neither? You must. Now.
Not just indie-rock that's stuck in the arse-end of the 90s scrabbling for reasons to be - this single rather shamefully attempts to recapture the heat of those few good Girls Aloud singles but confuses itself by forgetting to actually fit any hooks in between all the video-friendly attitudinal sloganeering and the thoroughly shameless lyrics from failed shitehawk singer-songwriter Priscilla Renae (Demi Lovato, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Cheryl Cole, yup you get the idea). Lyrics that if not utterly perplexing are not the kind of thing I feel you should let any young girl near for the brainrot and mind-palsy that will set in: "A gentleman is so 95, so hard for a girl to find/ Cause most dudes just hit it and quit it/And then they wonder why most girls just spit it" is redonkulous enough but then comes this little gem of an aside: "You had his baby, so you might've got him for now/ He already had the milk, so why would he go buy the cow?/ Hop in, your chance is slim especially when I'm lying next to him". Really CAN wait to hear my 7 year old singing that at her next bouncy castle/blue pop soiree, just hope she never gets to hear the 'rapped' coda.
"I need a Ryan Gosling, I need a Robert Pattinson
Somebody I can take to Mama, I need to find my Obama
I need a Jonas Brother and, how about a Denzel Washington?
I need a Kellen Lutz, and a Channing Tatum, throw 'em my way, I'll date 'em
I need a Drake, I need a Ludacris, I need a Wheezy, I don't care who he is
Heard 'em say I need a Kanye, he ain't a gentleman, but I'll have him anyway
George Clooney, Lamar Odom, Larry King, I like 'em older
All the gentleman from all around the world, holla".
Can you imagine how bad that sounds coming out of The Saturdays' posh gobs? They can just fuck off with this flailing shit (you can sense that cos none of them have a voice that's interesting they can't settle on a sound that works for them and are starting to sound as Desperate as the Housewives they so witlessly ape in the video). Psy's 'Gentleman' is the only 'Gentleman' yr little ones need, Little Mix are already better than them and Stooshe are titanically better than any of these saps. The Saturdays are the male Projekt Weekend and need to become UNfamous soon as.
SINGLE OF THE MONTH 2
Has you rolling forward on the snare-hits, neck snapping, before it slips under yr radar make sure you pump that bass to fully pick it up. And once you're snagged on it, once your thrumming chest is inextricably linked with its lunge and thump 'Time Trippin' becomes a ride as scary as the title implies (the sample's from 'Slaughterhouse Five' btw), a stuck groove too pleasurable to leave, too heavy for the heart to sustain. If the disc jockey at your local discoteque doesn't own this record and refuses your entreaties to play it either set fire to his booth or simply wait in the carpark and do him with a crowbar. Coked up little wanker.
You can tell throughout 'Nostalchic', 25 year old Essex-based producer Stuart Howard's debut album under the Lapalux name, that this isn't just some geek on a laptop, that tapes and hardware and wood and wires and a world beyond his bedroom are involved, that more is going on than just clicks and giggles. I actually enjoy Lapalux more the further away from r'n'b he gets, the less grit there is in the vocals, the closer to found fragments rather than cohesive wholes it becomes. 'Flower' is one of the most sweetly bucolic things on it, dead redolent of Boards Of Canada but without the darkness that shoots through even their most wide-eyed moments. Absolutely shorn of the smart-arsedness & condescension that so often proves an obstacle to enjoyment of artists who 'put their own spin' on modern black sources (see Lapa's label boss Flying Lotus ffknstarters & of course that ever-overrated wankabollock DJ Shadow), crucially there's no attempt to preserve the cosmopolitan urbanity of his listening, this is committedly countryside music, heatstruck, off-kilter, like staying out in a sunny meadow too soon after having your injections, a properly blurred reflection of the sights he sees and the sounds he hears. The only way is Lapalux.
The fucking gall of these people. You feel like chasing SFG down the street with a plastic bag demanding they scoop and dispense of this wormy mess. From the forthcoming 'Greatest Hits' LP. Yeah, I know, let's rewind a little and soak that up and in. Scouting For Cunting Girls have had enough hits to have a 'Greatest Hits' LP. It's coming out soon, and this wodge of sloppy labrador egesta is on it. Bastard Scouting For Girls got signed a while back, and had a few hits. Even further back, they formed, and thought that Scouting For Fucking Girls was a good name for a band. So, again, to recap: a band formed called Scouting For Girls because they thought that was a good idea. They had hits like 'Elvis Ain't Dead' and 'She's So Lovely' with the full support of the music business and media. They're now bringing out a best-of. And if that array of facts doesn't compel this generation to commit mass-seppuku they should hang their heads in shame. How the fuck did you cunts allow things to get this far? Oh, that's right, you were otherwise occupied with fucking Grizzly Bear or something. You lazy lazy bastards. S'too late now. Don't come running to me. Seriously, don't run, the way your arms flap about is really fucking annoying.
Vested In Culture
Great song, subtly arranged and man it's so utterly fantastic to hear a song sung & writ by a female in r'n'b that's actually about something important, something incredibly heavy as it goes, a look at poverty, growing desperation (at last a song that rhymes 'recession' with 'depression'), survival and the shattering grind of time from the vantage point of a Cuban-American (nice Havana lilt to the Wanksta-piano noted) who's remarkably not right-wing, with a voice that carries depth and soul and that you want to hear more of. I just hope Kat can manage to make music and not be forced into hot-pants too often (VIC btw are a subsid of Epic/Sony- a bit like I am, a bit like you are, a bit like everything seems to be at the mo) or at least get to choose her own hot-pants, cos this is the emergence of an intriguing new talent. Keep 'em peeled (yr eyes, not yr hot pants).
SINGLE OF THE MONTH 3
Killa Bees (Inside Info Remix)
12 years old, brand new re-rub, holy hell what a fucking torque-heavy twist of trauma this is from the soon-come 'Reanimation EP' - an absolute monster of a tune and without a doubt the very very best thing Michael Caine has (against his will) ever appeared on in his entire career. I remember when I pretty much bought everything on Renegade Hardware on sight cos I knew every single 12 they dropped was gonna be awesome. Nice to see they're still just as dependably unhinged as ever.
Ciara's bits are as dull as your bitter bludgeoned senses to be honest but this is kind of worth it just for Nicki's verse. Yeah, verse singular, a very singular verse that no-one else on earth could've writ or delivered so convincingly. Unfortunately it's all over a minute into this, and then you've got three more minutes of Ciara farting around (before another 20 seconds near the end where Nicki comes back) when they could've just given the entire track to Minaj and had the greatest track of its kind since Missy's 'Aint That Funny'. Sigh. 79p's worth? Hmmm. You could get 8 bags of Tangy Toms for that. Don't worry about the penny, you can owe it him.
Red Hot/Originate/Done Deal
The fantastic 'Red Hot' you might know already, simply stunning production from the man Nappa, pulling what sounds like Miles Davis' band circa 1970 in one of their most glidingly funky moments,and letting Cappo rip inspirational raps over the bristling strings and glowing thump. On the flip 'Originate' and the brilliant 'Done Deal' keep the quality insanely high. Don't sleep on this bargain 12".
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Love Karen's voice on this, love the boldness of releasing a single that's accapella for the first minute, love the diffraction and refraction of the guitars like a red giant streaming through a thousand skyscraper windows, love the twist in the lyric, the way she manages to turn the title into something to be reached for, something to be depended on, an acceptance of permanent precariousness we could all do with taking on. Absolutely not dumb enough to be hopeful but absolutely not dumb enough to leave you hopeless either. Wonderful song.
Chico MannSame Old Clown
A zillion times more essential in the full-phat disco stakes than the new Phoenix single, missing a bridge but that's nitpicking, something so buttery biscuit bitable about the bass'n'beats here, and Kendra Morris' vocal has that crucial weakness (think Joyce Sims but also Janet Kay) that's so much more effective on disco-funk tracks than stentorian caterwauling. Remember that DJ Premier rerub of Kendra's 'Concrete Waves'? Well, this is even better.
Now Again Records
At first has you thinking my god this is the greatest Giallo soundtrack I've never heard, then gets wierder in wonderfully absorbing ways, as psychedelic and corrosive as Chrome, as occassionally shocking as Six Finger Satellite. Chop is the current nom de plume of Coz Little who's been holed up in his Cheshire basement studio for two years now calling on pals in the Heliocentrics and The Coral to come play so he can record and then dismember & reanimate the results. The album 'Illuminate' is coming on the 16th of July and judging by this should be a living, fire-breathing slab of sonic bedlam you're gonna wanna allow to crack open your skull and feast on your braingoo immediately.
Cern & Verb
Terrifying at times, modernist chorale voices swooping at you from both sides, sudden demonic belches from below, Xenakis whorls of apocalyptic strings, doom-laden eschatology threaded through the samples and ancient-primitive beats, fantastic little Stooges-like punk bridge. Electronic body music of a quite blissfully pulverising nature.
Dark Denim (Sombear Remix)
Fantastically off-kilter re-rub from Sombear, putting Antwon's vocals through an echo that overlaps on itself to deliciously deranging effect and sits intransigently amidst this weird slice of psychedelic electro like you're hearing two different clubs through two different walls on two different chemicals. Not entirely sure this qualifies as 'competent' but absolutely sure I want to hear it again right fkn now. Never trust the musicians. Just the people who make music.
It's all bullshit except the pain. The pain of hell. The burn from a lighted match increased a million times. Infinite. Now, ya don't fuck around with the infinite. There's no way you do that. The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart... your soul, the spiritual side. And ya know... the worst of the two is the spiritual.
Bad faith, poor faith, catchy little number keen to steal the radiance and shimmer of music animated by faith and apply it to it's own precarious sense of smirking exploitation, a smirk it can't drop and which consequently leads me to despise this song. Neither agnostic nor atheist enough to be any more compelling than my hipster manoeuvres in buying a tie in Gainesville in 2001 two weeks after 9-11 that featured the nailed wrist of Christ bleeding out the letters 'Jesus Died For Your Sins'. I've never worn it since and I don't need this song cos I have the Staple Singers but 'Unbelievers' in its smarm and self-satisfaction is perfect for English students everywhere. Happy on the strength of this to condemn VW & their fans to each other. Keep it to yourselves you subhuman scum.
All Or Nothing
This is as depressing as finding out, as I just have, that Pink (goddess) has worked with Lily Allen (twat) or the equally appalling news that Professor Green continues to exist. Look, I know what Roll Deep have done since 'Return Of The Big Money Sound' was partly down to the failure of that album but fuck, I want the old Roll Deep back if this kind of cheesemongery is the best they can offer. Difficult to criticise cos it feels like you're saying 'I wish they were poor again' but fuck me, I'd love to hear some hunger, some ruffness, some ruggedness, some bliss back in their bedlam again. Whilst chaff like 'All Or Nothing' can still gatecrash the lower reaches that turnaround ain't gonna happen any time soon. For shame.
Will I Am ft. Miley Cyrus
Pity poor Miley, pity poor Selena. It's all over for them already and they're so young. Even the kids know - it's all about MC Grammartron and 'So Random' now. This tries extremely hard to be a kind of Europop/dubsteb hybrid and vaguely succeeds thanks to Will's occassional wacky touches (sudden stretches of strings straight outta Outkast-country) but Miley, please, don't do the usual Disney kid thing of trying to prove how dark and twisted you are by shaving yr head and getting a few tatts. It's not gonna work and to be honest your producer shot his bolt on that surprisingly good Bieber track, something you might realise when you're reduced to knocking out Hannah Montana skits with the SSRI-addicted Emily Osment on a tour of county-fairs and agricultural shows across the midwest. Don't be bitter. Just ply your trade. It's the new entertainment structure and I for one dig it.
Very strong late-Can, solo-Czukay vibe I reckon plus clear and correct Sly Stone worship on the keyboards but crucially moments where things seem to be genuinely out of anyone's control, or at least beyond your ability to visualise anyone making this music. You can visualise malfunctioning robots making it, or aliens suffering from a particularly destabilising bout of motion sickness, heavily processed vocals sitting in glistening globules on the steady beats and supremely unsteady tangle of bleep and glow beneath. A wibbly wobbly mini-masterpiece that sounds like the kind of thing Flaming Lips should've moved on to after 'Clouds Taste Metallic'.
I love the nervous, jittery feel of Akkord's stuff - 'Compound' sweeps across your vision like a torch in the face as you hide in the dark, the pleasingly dubbed-out drum patterns and building tension hunting you out of your rabbithole, finally rolling forth with a robotic, dread-heavy droid-step akin to early CabVol and Jeff Mills. 'Navigate' is even better, beats shredded and adhered to other beats, sudden rupturous splashes of voice across the mix, all done and evanesced into the environment in 4 minutes and all the more concisely unhinging for it. Superbly detailed, soulfully executed electronic music from Manchester.
SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4
One off 7" from a new band from Peckham that has me massively intrigued. 'Attgo' on the flip was the track that grabbed me, reminding me of Movietone or something long-lost off the Wurlitzer Jukebox label at first but then seeping out into the street on some gorgeous echoed beats massively reminiscent of the drums on Eno's 'No One Receiving' or Tortoise's 'Gamera', just as clear, just as diffuse. Fantastic, hugely suggestive stuff but even this hadn't prepared me for the remix of 'Taint' by King Krule & Jamie Isaac: just swoonsome, like Bark Psychosis and Boymerang transitioning into each other, part dub, part exquisitely bare-boned yet lush soul through which the heavily reverbed vocals skulk and pounce in an unsettling yet utterly addictive fahsion. Heavy heavy O'Rang vibe on all this which for those in the know is high praise indeed. Investigate.
Sometimes I sense that all you need to do to get a positive review in these cheerleading days is simply be a band and manage to make a record. Manage to make a record that starts, does some verses and choruses and ends or fades. Out of relief almost, people will be impressed that you got through, that you did it, that they have just been enabled to engage in the behaviour associated with music i.e listening and eventually, not listening. If you manage to use textures and sounds that people can identify, even better. And at no point must anyone ask - do I NEED this record? Because, possibly, at no point would the answer be yes. I was told Chvrches do 80s synth pop - they don't, they make weak 90s techno-pop seemingly waiting on a better timelier drum-machine (and the Linn/808 phatness sits ill with the cleanliness here, like a spacesuit full of farts). It would take you five listens to 'Gun' to be able to even remotely sing back a single line, so bereft of hook yet smug in texture it is. I have absolutely no problem with Chvrches pootling away to little avail until the end of time but the notion that this is 'great pop' simply because it deals in the same sounds as critics' youth is utterly wrong-headed. Must try a fuck of a lot harder.
Everything Has Changed
Big Machine Records
In at number 11. Can't see it going higher. Taylor's mistake was making anything except 'Trouble', her defining only-good moment. Sheeran's mistake was not contracting a nasty dose of Avian flu and putting himself in a sanitorium for the rest of our lives. Though thankfully bereft of any of Swift's usual 'verite' drawled put-downs, or any of Sheeran's 'compassionate' lyrics (he's not watched any C4 documentaries recently, at least not any featuring people with faces like flaky pastry) 'Everything Has Changed' is, as you can imagine, as much fun as shaving, and then drinking from, a boil.
Return Of The Twat
High Focus Records
"I'm treating rapping like wanking until I'm breakin' my cock" - DD cracks wise with some high-minded toilet-humour and killer self-deprecation on this little doozie, the chorus as fantastic a sing-along as you'll ever get your kids involved in and some genuine moments of poignant wrecked confusion amidst the bravado to keep things nicely balanced the right side of perplexed dozyness rather than lairyness. From a similarly-titled LP that I suspect might be totally awesome cos it's on the ever-awesome High Focus and features Ed Scissortongue, Fliptrix, Leaf Dog, Verb T and Dabbla amongst others.
Still not forgiven these spods for that cover of 'Teardrops' and 'Fiction' isn't gonna change that - a dreary collage of all things glacial and stealthy and correct that singularly fails to engage you on any level. For people as smart as The XX (they must be, all kinds of really smart people dig 'em) to open their mouths and hearts and heads and find that this is all that comes out should depress them into silence forthwith. May you never live in interesting times. The soundtrack is so fucking boring.
OK. End of the night and have to admit I'm getting fractious. What? An 'even more epic Killers'?
No, sorry, that's it. The shutters are up. Your parking will not be validated. Get outta here you bloated flatulent fuckers: there's enough shitty, orotund windybollocks rock music in the world right now, we don't need you cramming more in. Thank you . . . . . . . . hold on, what are you doing still mooching round here, staring at yr shoes? You're here to get your single reviewed? No, sorry, I'm knocking off for the night now - this IS your single reviewed. I mean it. Pack up all your equipment and fuck off out of it. Go home and just be quiet, very very quiet, fingers on lips. Stop looking at me with those cow eyes. I have nothing to say about your music except that everything you are doing is bad. Yes, everything, I'm not exaggerating. Everything you are doing is bad. Your music is as terrible as you should feel. I want you to know this. Yes, all of it - that's what 'everything' means. It's all bad. There is not a single redeeming feature to it. No, this isn't a joke. I'm not over-reacting. You are adding nothing but shit to the world. If you were 3000 times better than you are you'd still be fucking awful. Hey, lads, no need to get angry, I'm just being honest with you. No-one else will be . . .
OK, I think they've gone. By the way - next month I shall use this review again word for word for the purposes of reviewing the ever-enshittened increasingly enshittening Queens Of The Stone Age thus ensuring that my carbon footprint remains balletic. Hey, don't thank me, I just love my planet is all.