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Saturday, August 07, 2004

How much of our tastes is blindly influenced by what's come before? Both what we have listened to, and what we wish we'd been listening to after the fact? On the basis of this, I think quite a lot. Tina Cousins' 90s dance hits came at a point in my life where I was beginning to come out of my indie torpor and listen to pop again.

Hymn thus makes me feel 17 again, but also, I can hear in this Clubstar Remix a lot of mid 90s trance and cheesy dance. If I'd been 5 years older I probably would have got into Ultrasonic, but I didn't. My generation got Aqua instead, fair trade-off. Anyway, I like the appropriation of the Lord's Prayer, the nods to happy hardcore in the manic middle eight and the crushing, insidious beat. It's comforting. [MP3]
# 3:38 AM []

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Songs I've been listening to today...
FATBOY SLIM - Slash Dot Dash
Listening to this I am reminded of an episode of, I think, King Of The Hill where one character was extolling the virtues of Internet porn sites. "www dot dot com - naked chicks on there!". "/./-./.com" go the lyrics, mangled Internet talk. Ooh, aren't the people who don't know about the Internet funny? Oh, isn't this choppy guitar sample arch and clever? Isn't putting the two together a really good idea? Frankly, no. Big beat may be dead, but that's no reason to defile the corpse. I align myself squarely with people who think that this must be some kind of joke, and I very much hope that in about two weeks I'll be posting some kind of retraction to the effect of there being a REAL song that sounds completely different and that I fell for some kind of Internet fake, just like everyone else!

KORN - Word Up
I love Word Up. Cameo. Yeah. I even loved the Scary Spice cover (No, stop it hataz, it's great). I even thought Taxiride managed to make a decent fist of it. Simply put, it's unfuckupable, and Korn's version isn't bad. It's my favourite single of theirs since Got The Life anyway and I only wish I had a better quality MP3 of it. Think of whichever you preferred out of Fear Factory's Cars and Orgy's Blue Monday and it's a bit like that, but slightly better. If nothing else, Word Up has been proved to be a bit more durable than you'd expect, even without the stark bass and R&B beats of the original, it's survived its rock makeover quite well, and there's no reason why you wouldn't like this if you enjoy the original. The mileage of Korn fans may vary.

EMBRACE - Gravity
Sorry Nick, I tried to love it. I was willing to put the Chris Martin associations to one side - which I did with The Streets and was rewarded, and with Jamelia and was not - but, dear me, this is really a plodder of the highest order - and I used to quite like Embrace. You know what it reminds me of? I Want Love by Elton John. A bit, anyway, stuck between big stadium filling ballad and introspective MOR toe-tapper, with the virtues of neither. Even the chugging guitar before the last chorus is daunted by that maudlin, smug piano line (even though it's at a lower volume it still dominates) that would have people who buy Keane albums saying "Ah, now that's a good song.". Rather disappointed.

I've been enjoying Venke's album for about a week, and the single Scared for considerably longer than that. I think, in Venke, I've found what I didn't realise I was looking for, an amalgalm of the sweeping pop smarts of Michelle Branch with the more despairing folky pop of rather unsung American singer Patti Rothberg. Particularly on this track, which announces itself with a whooshing noise and a nimble guitar line, Venke's bruised vocals in the verses being joined by sweeter ones in the background of the chorus, which is agreeable and hooky. It's a nice bit of pop theatre which sounds utterly unresolved by its conclusion, just as uncertain at its end - an echoey "where you go" fading out - as when Venke askes the titular question over and over. [MP3]
# 5:25 PM []

Monday, August 02, 2004

SOULWAX - Miserable Girl
While I am obviously dedicated to the cause of trimming the fat off popular music and only listening to the good bits, someone really needs to do the same to the indiesphere. Of course, putting Soulwax in the indiesphere is a bit of a stupid thing to do because before they worked with (yawn) LCD Soundsystem and did lots of bootlegs, they were basically as unhip as you could get - a Belgian rock band with pop smarts.

This, then, is the highlight of their rather disappointing third album, which seems to have almost bloody-mindedly regressed almost to the style of their first album with its blunt guitar assault, with only a few tips of the hat to electronica - which in my opinion and probably nobody else's is at least marginally preferable to them actually sounding anythng like a DFA production.

The reason why Miserable Girl succeeds where the rest of the album mostly patters along amiably but unremarkably is that it's actually matched the aforementioned blunt guitars with a suitably searing set of hooks and rather than just being a one-note attack, it boasts a bit of rhythmic progression and movement. A noisy buzzing sound dominates the break into the chorus, making the duel re-entrances of the guitar riff in the chorus and Stephen Dewaele's vocals a bit more punchy. It also helps, I suppose, that it's probably their catchiest chorus to date and the line "You're such a Catholic girl/Trapped in a guilty body" is probably their most memorable. It actually fulfils their suggested but actually unstated promise of putting out genuinely danceable rock/pop music.

Not to say there's nothing else of value on Any Minute Now, it's just that if you were to summarise it to one track, it would be this, and in a world of MP3 blogs, iPods and mix CDs, it's not as if you don't need someone else to summarise for you. [MP3]
# 3:44 PM []
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