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Wednesday, March 03, 2004

For those who wanted to know, Round 3 of the Cross-Europe chart thingo is starting on Monday. Advance help on where to find the obscurer bits of your chart of choice would be appreciated. Also, suggestions for tracks to listen to not in the top 10 are appreciated, working on the proviso that my first column in Stylus didn't make people suddenly decide to stop visiting it ever again. You know the address....
# 11:50 PM []
PHOENIX - I'm An Actor
So everyone reading this blog would agree that If I Ever Feel Better is one of the best songs of the last 5 years, yeah? Marrying mid-80s indie guitar and plaintive tone to a modern pop song influenced by, but not sounding like disco, and done with the lightest touch and greatest care imaginable.

It's quite a shock then to hear Phoenix do something as harsh-sounding as this. There isn't a jangle to be heard, instead we gut choppy guitars in descending riffs, broken by ominous silences, creepy organ and a slightly disturbing rhythm. Thomas Mars' vocals are still a levelling influence, ensuring the whole thing doesn't stray too far, even at its most discordant. "I'm addicted/It's going strong/It's going strong again/The consequences/I leave them all for someone else/Don't say I'm doing fine/I'm not even trying to.". This is pretty strong meat from a band who once did a song called Funky Squaredance, isn't it?

It's actually a bit like instead of listening to Smiths records, Phoenix threw out their entire record collection except for those Neptunes songs on that loping, bare guitar (specifically, the Co-Ed version of Britney's Boys and the Neptunes mix of Garbage's Androgyny). A little bit of wistfulness would have helped it go down though.
# 11:03 PM []

Monday, March 01, 2004

This seems to have been on my hard drive for a while, but the single's coming out soon, and it's only just grown on me. It's by no means as devastatingly brilliant as their masterpiece from 2002 (Safe From Harm), but it keeps most of the good elements from it, but with quite a significant change in atmosphere and mood. Gone are the dark alleys and menacing stabs, and into the disco we go. Big stabs of synth pound above yet another great, sinewy slab of bass and uplifting vocals thaf fly around without ever descending into over-syllabled mush.

"There must be more to life than this/This life you surely will not miss". Obviously, being a dance song, one forgives its lyrical missteps - as long as they don't go into the chorus where they're repeated ad nauseum. Let's just have a simple rallying cry to the faithful, OK? "I like it when I feel your touch/I like it so much". Oh what the hell, I'll forgive that too because it makes me very, very happy.
# 9:57 PM []
Just a touch late with the Mp3s. I've put up Tears For Fears and Weeping Willows, reviewed below. Also, enjoy a delightful romp that if there is any justice in the world, will sweep to Eurovision glory - Tango! Tango! by Petra Nielsen - it hasn't even been selected for Sweden yet, but it's in the Melodifestival finals and it's a blinder. Imagine Abba's Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) but played on an accordion. Yes, it's really that good. And lastly, a cheesy German reality-TV-pop track, Bop Till You Drop by Become One. They're a bit rubbish, their current single is a Hilary Duff cover and posting was utterly necessary to cope with the first two songs. Which were a bit indie.
# 8:23 PM []
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