Queen and Blur are two bands I’d stick in a single pot labelled “Monstrously over rated, twee shit taken seriously by fans and critics alike for reasons unexplainable”. As if Radio Gaga, Country House, Parklife (what a joke that song truly is!) or Bohemian Rhapsody were anything other than nonsense.
Even when I was very young, I couldn’t see the value in Queen. It felt dumbed down even then. During the awful Britpop shite of the early to mid-90s that infected British music like a plague, everyone around me was jizzing in their pants over Blur. I was like “Seriously? This speaks to you? It actually means anything?”
Although no matter how stupid Blur’s music seemed, that atrocious fanny Damon Albarn still didn’t smile, as if he was creating Picasso masterpieces rather than singing about dustbins to jaunty major chord bollocks. Oi.
Dreadful bands, both of them. Twee bubblegum nonsense that oddly people seem to like up ‘em. Blur and Queen’s entire back catalogue could be erased from history by a do-gooding time-travelling music critic (if there is one who would dare stand up and point out this tripe is actually tripe) and our musical landscape would not suffer one bit. All the good stuff would still be there, all atrocious shite like this, would not. These awful bands have a lot to answer for.
Colin Macleod - ‘California’ (Middle Of Nowhere Recordings)
Hello and welcome to this week in singles, where we’re immediately drowning in sorrow and lamentation as singing-songwriting-Geffen-Records-fleeing Colin Macleod thrusts upon us his dreamy ode to the great west coast state of California. This is his first single since going independent and is an emphatic love song full of beauty, finger picking and yearning ambient wails. The production is glossy and thick, with obvious influences coming from Ben Howard’s Every Kingdom album, as there is a Rizla paper’s worth of difference between these two in terms of sound. A charming single that bathes all in a warm orange sunbeam even if you’re listening to it in an 70s prefab office block in Dundee. 8/10
Until the Bird - ‘Nightingales’ (Meta Limb Records)
More folk you say? Well ok, how about Until the Bird with their swooning new single ‘Nightingales’? The band call the epic melodrama of their music “post-apocalyptic alt-folk”, but more apt perhaps is the label “big music”, a name the Waterboys gave to their own brand of giant folk back in the 80s. For ‘Nightingales’ recalls many an influence from the guitar strummers of yesteryear, all which blend together in this soup of sound that swirls and moves with abandon. At over five and a half minutes in length, there’s nothing small or compromising about this release, and thank goodness, as it’s all the better for it. 8/10
Black Submarine - ‘Here So Rain’ (Self Release)
Band membership isn’t normally important when it comes to dissecting new singles, but Black Submarine sure have a notable line up. An ex-Verve guitarist and an ex-Verve bassist, an ex-Portishead drummer and a Goldfrapp/Coldplay multi-instrumentalist have all joined forces with warbler-extraordinaire Michele Schillance to create slabs of shoegaze tinged alt-rock. ‘Here So Rain’ is a noisy, multifarious ride through layers of instrumentation that ends up sounding like Garbage from 15 years ago. Perhaps it is the band’s own 90s roots, but the song, for all its perfect guitar tone and expert craftsmanship, sounds dated. Not retro, not nu-gaze revival, just dated. Of course, lest we forget how appealing this can be, but that doesn’t change the fact that, no matter how well executed this single is, it takes us nowhere new, and familiarity breeds contempt. 5/10
The Crookes - ‘Play Dumb’ (Fierce Panda)
Angular, too cool for school strutting from the house of Fierce Panda with The Crookes. Trite but unavoidable comparisons for this single could include Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines and any other bunch of cheeky chappies with guitars and art pop sensibilities. Yet, a fantastically addictive bassline and an usual video save this mid-noughties guitar romp from an otherwise certain doom. 7/10
Terry Emm - ‘Starlight’
Scintillating and dexterous guitar playing coupled with rich and warm vocals make Terry Emm’s ‘Starlight’ the best folk offering of this week. Or perhaps, any week. All the usual boxes are ticked, but somehow, like all great artists, Emm creates something special from the ordinary. Every chord and every key has been used before but these three intimate minutes ring out clear and pure above all else. Emm’s voice is close and confiding whilst violins soar and wound metal strings snap against maple guitar necks in effortless melody. It’s raw, lucid, and the whole song far outweighs the sum of its simple parts. Fantastic. 9/10
More attention needs to be paid to this excellent unsigned band of bizarreness
'I'm Not Part of Me' by Cloud Nothings
So good it’ll force and drink into your hand and make you dance even if you’re a teetotaller with two left feet.
‘All I Wanna Do Is Break Some Hearts’ - Kreeps
Sexual Bass and flute intercourse for funk perverts.
‘The Night Shift Lullaby’ by Magnolia Electric Co.
A heart breakingly pure country lament.
‘Twisted’ by Zeke
Drunk guitars kick you in your stupid face.
‘Steady Rollin’’ by Two Gallants
Disenfranchised whiskey soaked alt-country hates everyone.
‘Cutsman’ by Horse the Band
Nintendocore turned up to 11.
‘The Rattler’ by Goodbye Mr Mackenzie
80s’ tinged Celtic big music for big quiffed romantics.
‘Sun Brother’ by Brant Bjork
Brant Bjork explains why he’s cooler than you via stoner ambience.
‘Battleships’ by Baddies
Angular and sharp grooves that need gloves to handle.
‘Queen of Apology’ by The Sounds
Scando-pop strutting from the mid noughties.
‘Yoga Means Union’ by Ambulance Ltd.
Instrumental, multi-guitar meanderings.
such as Gary Barlow
1. Who would you say your biggest inspiration as an artist is?
2. What projects are you currently working on?
3. What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you on tour?
4. Any regrets? Things you wished you’d done differently?
5. Dating anyone special at the moment?
6. How do you write songs?
7. Have you ever cut a hole into a corpse with a knife and then had sex with the hole?
8. What’s your favourite colour?
9. What was it like being at the top of the Amazon chart?
10. What artist would you most like to work with?
11. What else makes you tick aside from music?