The Singles Bar - 16th April 2012
Unfortunately, Joe once again can't be with us on this nice, sunshiny day, so I've volunteered to spend my own nice, sunshiny day stuck in front of YouTube to fill in for him. Although I feel surprisingly ok about it - it's actually quite a good week in the Singles Bar...
Citizens! - Reptile
If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck. Likewise, if they look like Alex Kapranos, and have been produced by Alex Kapranos, does that mean Citizens! are in fact Alex Kapranos? Probably not, as there's also a bit of Hot Chip to their vocals, and even some MJ in their impressively fancy footwork, but otherwise their angular post-punk hasn't exactly fallen far from the tree. Not that there's anything particularly wrong with that - I have a theory (that I've just come up with) that their label, Kitsuné, is, with its ever-so tastefully selected band roster and fashion line, attempting to create a real-world manifestation of Tumblr, and Citizens! will fit in perfectly with such plans. 6/10
Clock Opera - Man Made
I question the wisdom of releasing a single the week before an album launch. I can see the original logic behind it - in that the airplay would act as a nicely timed awareness boost for the forthcoming record, but with the single format becoming ever more obscure (finding an accurate list of today's releases was not an easy task) it just seems like a waste of resources now. Although, I might just be whining about this as I've also got to review Clock Opera's album sometime before the end of the week and I'm wary of repeating myself. Can I just say that Man Made is, in keeping with their previous singles, at once complex and tricksy while also being pleasantly sweet? And also very good. 8/10
Marina And The Diamonds - Primadonna
Has anybody else pointed out the similarity between Marina Diamandis and Florence Welch yet? Both are ostensibly solo artists with meaningless band name suffixes, both have something of an air of privilege and pretentiousness about them (not least in their fashionably unfashionable names - I look forward to the first pop-star named Lettuce or Myrtle) and both, for me, are extremely patchy - occasionally capable of coming up with a dramatic pop number, but often just incredibly irritating. Primadonna is fortunately one of Marina's better ones (even if its overwhelming influence is right there in the title), nicely contrasting a grubby bassline with her drunken toddler voice. I did spend most of the time watching the video wanting to tell her that her roots were showing though. 7/10
Tashaki Miyaki - Sings The Everly Brothers
There's something a bit annoying about Tashaki Miyaki's self-imposed air of mystique, mainly because it doesn't give me much to work with when it comes to writing about them. All I know is that they're a boy/girl chillwave duo from LA who're named after drunken mispronounciation of Audition director Takashi Miike (so I suppose they have my support already). Sings The Everly Brothers, though, does precisely what it says on the tin, running one of Don and Phil's most recognisable hits, and one of their B-sides (respectively All I Have To Do Is Dream and I Wonder If I Care As Much) through a Jesus and Mary Chain filter. Perfect for soundtracking moments of sad introspection in Zooey Deschanel movies, artfully obscure advertising campaigns and surprisingly tasteful heroin overdoses. 8/10
LMFAO - Sorry For Party Rocking
Sorry, LMFAO but I'm afraid that I can't accept your apology. If you were truly, sincerely sorry for "party rocking", you'd stop doing it, rather than shoving some remixes on the back of it and re-releasing it as a single. I was planning on being charitable and giving this a 1/10 as it's not quite as wretched as Sexy And I Know It, but on finding out that it came packaged with a 7 minute plus video featuring awful product placement, David Hasslehoff (when will the ironic resurrection of his career end?) and a lengthy reprise of their prior sonic abortion, I realised that in good conscience I honestly can't give this any more than a 0/10, so that's what it gets.
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Tapes & Money
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs is the best band name ever, y/y? Although it's possibly the most confusing too. Such a name surely lends itself to a garage rock band comprised of small children (I'm thinking Smoosh, or those kids covering Rammstein) so the fact that T.E.E.D. is in fact one bloke turning out tastefully wonky electro does create a sense of cognitive dissonance. Tapes & Money is, as the kids would say, another banger and comes with an amazing disco vocal, but it doesn't really go anywhere and fades out to nothing when it should really end with a bang. 7/10
Mafia Lights - Spiriting
Mafia Lights are another offender in the confusing bandname stakes (and they don't even have the excuse of it being a good one) - there's nothing at all mafia-esque about a bunch of nice-looking, Animal Collective-nodding boys from Guildford. To be fair to them though, there is something almost aggressively weird at the heart of their summery shoegazing, specifically a beaten-up sample of a soprano underpinning the band's own hazy vocals. Perhaps even more unexpected (and better) is B-side West, a dreamy wisp of a song that mixes a Burial-like beat and vocal hook with a blissed out, laid-back guitar melody. I'm not really sure what it means, if anything, but I know that I want more. 9/10 - SINGLE OF THE WEEK
B.O.B. - So Good
Maybe it's the sunny weather talking but this is nowhere near as bad I was expecting. In fact other than the slightly obnoxious chorus, So Good, with its sort-of-what-Dre-was-doing-about-ten-years-ago piano basis, should make for a fairly fun bit of ubiquitous pop this Summer. 6/10
Newton Faulkner - Write It On Your Skin
Newton Faulkner, him of the annoying Massive Attack cover and unfortunate Mick Hucknall comparisons is back back back! Although I suspect nobody really cares cares cares. But maybe Write It On Your Skin will change that as it does have an appealingly breezy naivety to it, even if it does somehow manage to be both overly earnest and fairly nonsensical. In other words it's alright, but he still strikes me as nothing more than a busker who got lucky. It must be the dreadlocks. 4/10
Conor Maynard - Can't Say No
Confession time. As I'm rapidly approaching something of a landmark birthday (it begins with a 3, and ends in me making a massive sadface), I've been spending an unhealthy amount of time contemplating getting older and wondering if there'd be a specific moment when I'd realise that, in the words of Abraham Simpson, "I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I'm with isn't it, and what's it seems weird and scary to me.". Finding out that, despite this being the first I've heard of his stuff, Conor Maynard already has a frighteningly devoted tween-audience, might in fact be that moment, especially because I can't find anything in Can't Say No that seems remotely worthy of such fuss. Not that there's anything particularly bad about it, it's just yet another example of that tired cliché of a guy attempting to do a soulful shout-out to "all the ladies" over a fairly lacking backing track.
Actually, there is something wrong with it; Maynard comes across far too eager to overly emote and harmonise every note, and does so while also doing that annoying gesture with his hand to emphasise how hard he's working to hit every one; he's essentially the male Jessie J, which, now I come to think of it, might explain my not getting the appeal. Either way, it makes me think that I should consider just giving up attempting to appreciate pop music and start practicing my incomprehensible rants about the complications of modern life (a fax machine is nothing more than a telephone with a waffle iron attached!). 2/10
And on that I shall take my leave of you, so that I can I start looking at new career options and tracking down a comfy pair of slippers. Fingers crossed that Joe's back in time to do next week's Singles Bar, otherwise I might have to dig out one of my rambling stories that end up going nowhere to pad out the column.16 April, 2012 - 20:52 — Mark Davison