Music Features

The Singles Bar - 2nd April 2012

This week’s Singles Bar is, unfortunately, Joe-less. He cannot be here this week because he’s discovered where Brett Anderson lives and is camping out in front of his house until he releases another Suede record. So you’re all stuck with me, at least for now. But rest assured he shall return, and his ever steady hand will be guiding me through this new and terrifying world, filled with Florence + The Machine, Laura Marling, Taylor Swift, Breathe Carolina and more.

Breathe Carolina - Blackout

Autotune can be alright sometimes. Lyrics about a party can be alright sometimes. Dance music is often alright. None of these things are alright on Blackout, and Key-tars are never, ever alright in any context. Blackout sounds like the Hot Topic emo from the early 2000’s collided with modern dance music. It’s like the demonic spawn of 3OH!3 and Panic! At The Disco. The worst part? It’s pretty catchy. It will get stuck in your head and it will stay there for days. It’s a waste of a good hook, and one of the worst songs I’ve heard in a while. Maybe not Chris Brown bad, but that’s only because they haven’t hit Rihanna yet. 1/10

Casiokids - Kaskaden

Casiokids are to bedroom recorded electronic music what Breathe Carolina are to Top 40 pop. It’s nowhere near as bad, in fact, it’s a perfectly pleasant song, but it’s fairly bland and something we’ve all heard several times before. A basic keyboard line, simple layering and a two-step beat. The internet is flooded with hundreds of songs that sound just like it. The style isn’t awful, just really overdone. Kaskaden is a song to nod your head to for four minutes and then forget. 5/10

Florence + The Machine - Never Let Me Go

Avoiding listening to this might actually be Joe’s real reason for skipping his duties this week. But really, who can blame him? Listening to Florence yell and warble about the ocean is not something I wanted to on my to-do list for the day. Florence + The Machine have become predictably mediocre. Never Let Me Go is standard Florence + The Machine: a predictable build to a loud chorus with a few memorable lines. Loud vocals with lots of unnecessary pitch shifting, similar to Adele but nowhere near as good. I’ll leave you now with the music video’s current top Youtube comment: “When I listen to this on the bus I have to wear sunglasses so no one will see me cry.” 4/10

Laura Marling - All My Rage

I’ll admit, I haven’t heard much Laura Marling before this. It just hasn’t really interested me all that much, and it still doesn’t. It’s a decent song. It sounds nice, and she’s an excellent guitar player. It sounds very much like English folk to my West Coast, never-been-abroad American ears. It sounds old, but also very current. It’s a very comfortable listen. It builds around a simple, enjoyable refrain. I like this song, but it’s not making me want to pursue her any further than this, and isn’t a single supposed to pique interest? 6/10

The Milk - Broke Up The Family

There will always be a place in pop music for good old fashioned rock and roll. Broke Up The Family provides exactly that. Distorted but not overpowering guitars, impassioned vocals a little rough around the edges, the whole package. It’s nothing new, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s an angry tirade against someone who stole his woman. A simple, blues inspired subject. If I hear it on the radio this side of the Atlantic I’ll be pleased. 7/10

Olly Murs - Oh My Goodness

I spent the last ten minutes on Wikipedia learning about Olly Murs and The X Factor, two things that I know absolutely nothing about. I don’t have two years of hearing music that was probably overplayed to compare this to. I’m just hearing pretty catchy music with fresh ears. The lyrics are standard boy-wants-girl Top 40 stuff. The rest is pretty standard too, but it’s also pretty well executed. The horns in the catchy chorus are excellent, and bring to mind a livelier Michael Buble. It’s easy, mindless and enjoyable, if not a bit forgettable. It’s better than a lot of the stuff to come out of reality TV competitions, with the massive exception of Since U Been Gone6/10

Steel Panther - 17 Girls In A Row

Hair metal is not a genre that needs a comeback, unless it’s incredibly tongue in cheek. I’m almost entirely certain Steel Panther is joking. One look at their album cover and band members and you’ll suspect it. One time hearing 17 Girls In A Row and you’ll know for sure. With lyrics like, “I whipped out my junk and they got on their knees like they were all getting ready to play”, and, “Wam to the bam to the thank you ma’am and I praised the Lord like Billy Graham”, should be proof enough. But in the end, the song still isn’t any good. The joke isn’t funny enough. The song is still overblown hair metal, and it’s still about pleasing 17 (which seems to also be an unsubtle reference to their age) consecutive women. 3/10

Taylor Swift Feat. The Civil Wars - Safe and Sound

The Civil Wars are pretty popular where I come from. Most folk is. People like it because they think they’re the first to discover it. Everyone thinks that, which means that they’re all wrong. The guitarist has a beard, and this increases his popularity and authenticity by a factor of 7. Safe and Sound sounds a lot more like the Civil Wars than Taylor Swift, doing the usual pretty, wandering Civil Wars thing. It slowly builds by adding soft drums and vocal layers, just like every other Civil Wars song I’ve heard. It’s on the Hunger Games soundtrack, and I guess the whole “keep me safe” theme works with the movie. The exposure from the soundtrack and the Swift appearance will give the band a huge boost, and I’d rather hear them on the radio than one more Mumford song. 6/10

Tribes - In the Corner of an English Field

In the Corner of an English Field reeks of nostalgia before the song even ends. It conjures up feelings of the end of a great summer, the end of something carefree and easy. It’s a type of song that shows up every year around this time, but Tribes does it quite well. A simple Britpop song about lost love and a time left behind. It’s something a lot of people can get behind, and with good reason. They’re a solid band making solid music, and Corner of an English Field is a solid song. 8/10

Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe

I live just south of the Canadian border, right near Vancouver, BC, where Carly Rae Jepsen resides. Naturally, they’ve been playing the shit out of this song on Canadian radio since about November. Justin Bieber quickly threw what little weight (both literal and figurative) he has behind the song. I complained about it at first, but it quickly becomes impossible to hate. It’s simplistic, boy-meets-girl pop music, produced like it's 1998. Its Top 40 silliness at its finest, and it’s unbelievably catchy. It’s just hook after hook, and it doesn’t let go. It’s quickly spreading beyond my pseudo-Canadian bubble. I’ll be happy if I keep hearing this once I’m out of range of Vancouver radio. It’s not a classic, but it sure does satisfy in the moment. 9/10 - SINGLE OF THE WEEK

Potential Top 40 über-smash bagging the Single Of The Week award. In The Singles Bar, expect the unexpected. Let us know what you think of this week's selections (and guest reviewer) using the Disqus form below.