Hello - Here’s another round up of last week’s singles.
Hellyeah - ‘Bigger God’
Premium metal up your ass with Hellyeah. Sounding like Metallica should, this storming storm has everything a discerning metaller wants to hear - Mouth-watering guitar tone, double bass drumming, huge riffs and excellent vocal gymnastics. Harking back to a golden age of early 90s Machine Head, Fear Factory or The Almighty, this is a straight down the line, perfectly executed slab of metal. So good, it feels like nu-metal never happened. 8/10
Cashtastic - ‘In My Zone’
Cashtastic isn’t a programme on late night ITV but a UK rapper signed to Universal Publishing. ‘In My Zone’ is a hectic, grime style yabber about going out and being er, in the zone (which, by the way, is a late night ITV programme). To be fair, Cashtastic does a good enough job spitting out his rhymes but it’s a messy tune which isn’t so much raw and ready as overcooked and over bloated. 5/10
Tegan and Sara - ‘I Was A Fool’
Currently riding a wave of popularity that’s washing up against a shore of credibility, in a pop-ballad dingy (sorry), Tegan and Sara might have been going for years, but they’re peaking in terms of popularity; and it’s easy to understand why. ‘I Was a Fool’ is a superb, accessible, addictive pop song that ticks every box out there. Melancholic, uplifting, reflective, honest. It’s outrageously perfect. Like Haim before them, Tegan and Sara are pushing buttons other commercial artists just can’t reach. A flawless effort. 10/10
Bring Me The Horizon - ’Go To Hell, For Heaven’s Sake’
Metalcore outfit BMTH have been plugging away for a while now, dishing out their own brand of American emo-metal - and when you’re from Sheffield that couldn’t have been easy. So credit is due for this impressive new single. Slick, tight and with more shouty choruses than you can wave a self-harmed arm at, it’s an accessible and intricate metal romp through angst and anger that’s actually quite fun. 8/10
T.W.i.N.S. - ‘Found A Flat’
T.W.i.N.S are a pair of blokes that wear suits and look a bit like the middle class Krays. ‘Found A Flat’ is a deadpan electo-song that’s a paper thin bass thumping over monosyllabic spoken work twaddle about searching for a place to live in London. If this is meant to be some everyman anthem for the dispossessed, urban youth, it fails. Sounding like a cheap Jona Lewie knock off, or an Art Brut without the instruments, this song might be a hilarious in joke for someone, somewhere, but for the rest of us, there’s nothing to laugh about here. 3/10
Blludd Relations - ‘Anything But The Fingers’
Blludd Relations is the project of Bullion and Jesse Hackett of Elmore Judd. They churn out delicate, electronic explorations, with fragile vocals and humming atmospherics, such as new single ‘Anything But The Fingers’. Beneath the meandering squidges and tinkering percussions of this song lies a subtly propulsive rhythm that ties the whole thing together, giving it a curious charm all of its own. 8/10
I’ve never really liked Record Store day. I’m sure such words are considered blasphemy amongst music lovers, but whilst the intention of the day is great, it’s basically turned into a day for shit old bands on shit major labels to release shit versions of shit album tracks on vinyl. It’s a bit of a con if you ask me.
Anyway,despite my views, it’s a day too big to ignore in the music calender. So here’s a quick look at some of those Record Store Day releases that came out a couple of weeks ago.
Itch - ‘Manifesto Pt 1 and Pt 2 EPs (Ltd Edition 12” vinyl)
Permo-angry “deep rapper” Itch re-releases his two Manifesto EPs on limited edition 12” vinyl for Record Store Day. Previous to this, these EPs were released on hand painted USB sticks, so he’s still consciously rallying against the ubiquitous CD format it seems. Fans snapping up the vinyl will be also rewarded with an exclusive lyric booklet, important here, as words are the itchy man’s main source of expression. You get me? For those unfamiliar with Itch, expect an erratic and eclectic mix of samples, heavy basslines, electro punk aggression and amicable reggae jaunts, as well as a lot of musing on the state of the world in general. Not as ubiquitous and suave as his peer and obvious comparison Plan B, Itch still has a lot to say. However, considering that at least one of these EPs is already available on Spotify, this release is aimed squarely at the fans.
Little Boots - ‘Nocturnal Versions’ (Two track vinyl release)
Electropop indie darling Little Boots releases ‘Nocturnal Versions’ for Record Store Day. She’s never presented herself as a straight down the line chart act and this move wisely plays up to her alternative image. This fleeting two track vinyl is limited to 500 copies and features extended edits of a couple of songs found on her forthcoming album. It’s a bit of a cop out release perhaps, but again one for the diehard fans. One track included is ‘Strangers’ and the other is ‘Broken Record’, which just happens to be her hushed, hypnotic, disco-indebted new single, which is pleasant enough pop fodder.
Paul Weller - Flame-Out! / The Olde Original (Two track vinyl release)
Record Store Day often brings out the established old guard. For example, this year’s ambassador was legendary transparent slack wearing, bag o’ bones Iggy Pop, so it’s no surprise to see the likes of Paul Weller joining in with the fun with a double A side release. If you can call Paul Weller fun. This vinyl comes in a Virgin “house bag” featuring the Virgin twins logo designed by quintessential 70s album sleeve artist Roger Dean. I assume this is for all those Weller fans who really care about Virgin Records. I’d like to tell you what the music is like, but admirably sticking to the rules, Music Gob was only sent the press release, not the music. Nonetheless, both tracks are now available as a digital download for the next month, so if you can’t work out how to get that vinyl to play on your laptop, here’s your opportunity to get hold of some exclusive Weller tunes.
Suede - ‘Barriers’ / ‘Animal Nitrate’ (Two track vinyl release)
Riding on the crest of their recent rebirth, Suede follows Weller’s rather dapper suit to release this double A side single, which they say is a “link between their past and present material”. Translated, that means one song off their new album and one from 20 years ago. Still, it’s “Animal Nitrate”, one of the greatest singles off one of the greatest albums from the 90s, so they’re forgiven. In fact, it’s such a great song that it somewhat overshadows ‘Barriers’ which is essentially a pretty darn good new offering in itself. This vinyl release is well worth getting if you can as it’s already a giant improvement on the band’s recent lackluster single from a couple of weeks ago.
Pulp - ‘After You’ (ft Soulwax remix - Two track vinyl release)
More 90s re-emergers playing up to the 30-somethings-with-disposable-incomes-market; this time it’s Pulp. Here Cocker and co. reissue their late 2012 single ‘After You’ in a slightly extended format. Accompanying this is a Soulwax remix and the band’s own ‘The 4am Desperation Disco to Disco Dub Version’. Once again, Music Gob can’t comment on these exclusive tracks, you’ll have to buy the vinyl for that. Nonetheless, ‘After You’ is a good indicator of form and it was a satisfying slow burner that showed Pulp can still be quirky but pleasingly poppy at the same time, with of course their usual flamboyant ease.
Marshall Teller (label)- Two Various Split Single Vinyl Releases
Now this is what Record Store Day is really about. Small bands on independent labels using the day as a platform to get noticed and encouraging people to buy physical formats. London based Marshall Teller Records have exploited this opportunity and released not one but two split singles. Firstly, there’s a four way split featuring “the cream of London’s vibrant indie scene” whilst the second release is a blue vinyl (oh yeah) from The History of Apple Pie and Young Husband. This kind of grassroots, funny coloured vinyl with obscure indie songs on them is truly exciting stuff, reminiscent of digging through 7” singles in a dusty old record shop only to discover a gem that becomes an iconic song in your life. It’s a romantic notion and one that Marshall Teller want to keep alive. Yay to that. Visit www.marshalltellerrecords.com for more info.
Dog Is Dead - ‘Do The Right Thing’ (7” vinyl release)
Nottingham’s own indie popsters Dog Is Dead release a limited edition, numbered single for Record Store Day containing ‘Teenage Daughter’ and previous single ‘Do The Right Thing’. This spritely bunch have described their music as having a “cheeky bit of jazz” (urgh) amongst other influences, but as much as they try to soar for the heights of Two Door Cinema Club or Theme Park, they sound a little insipid and washed out at times. Nonetheless, their radio friendly sound is surely set to win them an army of fans and a slot on a Hollyoaks soundtrack, so who can blame them?
While She Sleeps - ‘Death Toll’ (7” vinyl release)
It’s metal galore from Sheffield’s While She Sleeps and their exclusive Record Store Day release ‘Death Toll’. In the spirit of the day, and setting a mighty fine example, this palm-muted, double bass-drum pedalling, screaming thunderfuck of a song was only available on Record Store Day as a vinyl release. No digital download to follow, no re-released 12” nonsense, this is a band who clearly have integrity and have offered up something unique for the day. It’s a slice of hardcore metal that would be a real shame to miss, so if this vinyl is still kicking about and you like your music heavy, it’s a no brainer. Here’s an audio only version that sneaked onto Youtube.
Some more single round ups with ruthless scores in an out of ten format (you can translate them into percentages in your head if you like).
The Strypes - ‘Blue Collar Jane’ Exuberant and youthful rhythm and blues clan The Strypes release this formulaic rock progression that could be called Blue Collar Jane, Peter’s Giant Face, Paul’s Massive Chin or any other four syllable phrase that fits into what is essentially a song you’ve heard twenty million times before.Bollocks. It also doesn’t help the band look like the early 60s has thrown up over them, so contrived and controlled their image clearly is. Saying all this, rock and roll will never die and this simplistic guitar based jaunt still has merit. Just don’t be so bloody ordinary lads. 5/10
Foals - ‘Late Night’
Foals are that popular guy or girl at school that you wanted to hate because everyone loves them, but you can’t because they’re so bloody decent. They’re the last great hope for UK guitar bands whilst the rest of the bottom feeders pretend to be Liam Gallagher or dance around in plimsolls with pointy inward feet and skinny jeans. ‘Last Night’ is yet another beautiful, textured, and pensive song as the band’s third album ‘Holy Fire’ continues to produce mature and meaningful songs with aplomb. 9/10
Guards - ‘Ready To Go’
This New York band produce layered, dreamy music that’s as shoegaze as it is psychedelic, spanning the decades from the 60s to the 90s to today’s eclectic and identity crisis ridden decade. ‘Ready To Go’ is a woozy, drunk ocean of sound to drift out to sea upon, to disappear upon as it sways and moves and flows, soaking you in reverb. It’s great stuff and manages to sound much fresher and interesting that the retro influences might suggest. 8/10
Big Deal - ‘In Your Car’ Slurry voiced, emaciated Kacey underwood of former heavy grunge rockers Little Death takes his droll and intoxicated style with him for this kind of newish project, Big Deal. Alice Costelloe’s angelic looks and fragile voice balance out this odd pairing, creating something quite beautiful in fact, as distorted guitars chug away in the background. It’s a wall of fuzzy sound and thunderous drums that’s delivered in such a cool, calm fashion that it’s perfect bitter-sweet mix. 7/10
I write a singles column for a music website and sometimes, for various timing reasons it doesn’t get published that week. Last week was one of those times so here it is instead. Yeah.
Singles Released Last Week:
K - ‘Too Young To Die’
If K were named after the grotty cider from the early 90s it would be apt, as they sound like any handful of soft rock bands from the fleeting era that walked the thin line between G’n’R’s fading flame and the meteoric rise of the indie guitar band. ‘Too Young To Die’ is a mid tempo guitar stomp that at best sounds like Reef and at worst, nonsense hair rockers Skin. Who? Exactly. There wasn’t even a place for this music first time round. 3/10
Charge Group - ‘Run’
New release ‘Run’ from this Australian four piece is perhaps an odd choice for a single, as it spends most of its time being shy and hushed, with whispering vocals and plucky guitars. It seems oddly embarrassed to flourish, but finally manages to only to all too briefly showcase how high Charge Group can soar. Frustrating but lovely. 7/10
Andy Burrows - ‘If I Had A Heart’
Radio friendly folk pop from Razorlight ‘s former drummer Andy Burrows. You know the one. With a cliched song title and an even more cliched video, it’s easy to dismiss this single as little more than a disposable earworm. But Burrow’s warm and intimate voice rescues what is essentially a humdrum release, proving that he’s not just a one trick pony. 6/10
Department M - ‘I’ll Fax You An Apology’
Department M, aka Owen Brinley from the now defunct Grammatics, release this moody, lo-fi single with an ominous rumbling bassline and numerous blips and squeals that accompany Brinley’s ethereal wails. It’s an intricate, atmospheric song full of jutting rhythms and more space than you can shake a stick at, yet for all its beauty, it lacks cohesion somewhat. 6/10
Girl Called Johnny - ‘Heaven Knows’
Karen Anne set out to create pop songs with meaning; something she’s succeeded in doing with superb single ‘Heaven Knows’ from her new musical outfit Girl Called Johnny. It’s a beautiful paradox of sultry lamentation presented in a perversely catchy pop package. Sounding like a Motown record written by Morrissey and played by Camera Obscura, this heartbreaking single is nothing short of exceptional. 9/10
Serge P - ‘Acid In 2107’
German DJ Serge Przbyl, or Serge P as he likes to be formally known, releases this insanely squidgy acid techno track that’s a retro fan’s wet dream. “Acid” refers to the use of synths that need to be manually adjusted to make those oddball squidgy sounds, which is why they perhaps sound so organic and propulsive here. The track is like Mr Oizo crossed with Josh Wink and whilst it might not achieve the ecstatic highs of the beloved ‘Higher State’ it’s still a joy to hear someone tackle the old Roland 303 bassline generator once again. 7/10