“Let’s review some new singles ” the voices said
“Nor Arf ” I replied in my best Fluff Freeman voice . “But we need the finest minds in pop to get on board and give their wise and sagacious views on some hot new grooves pop pickers!” Sadly they where all booked up, but we did get together a panel of experts who know a thing or two about pop, some can even carry a tune !
Laura Trouble – Captivating and lovely lead singer with one of The VPME’s favourite bands Screaming Ballerinas and co founder of the Dolly Rockers Club. Laura’s marvellous band can be found here
Mister Lion – Officially the tallest illustrator and graphic designer living today in Britain, imagine if you will, Noel Coward crossed with Mark Kermode by way of a lamp post, that’s Mister Lion for ya! ” Marvel ” at the tall mans comic and sometimes disturbing creations here
Mikey Guitar – Lead guitarist with hotly tipped Manchester based band Bauer. Rumour has it Johnny Marr has tried to master Mikey’s guitar riffs, but to no avail. Mikey loves giving things marks out of 10. Meet Bauer here
Fran – Hailing from Italy, Dame Frannington likes her music and regularly decrees what is good music and what is bad by use of her thumbs. Like a Roman Emperor really. Or The Fonz.
Elz – Has a liking for Scottish bands, she writes reviews and can often be found scouring the Internet for new and exciting music. Shes no fan of broad beans though. Or fruitcake.
Dogwood – Oliver Gordon Dogwood, if you want to be familiar ,currently employed by Cheambeat Communications Radio to facilitate the late night show on Music Hall Memoires (formerly hosted by Fido Lomax until he went a little ga-ga and thought he was Sitting Bull). Give a firm virtual handshake to Dogwood here. (Settle Down)
Von Pip: Looks like a hard knock , but there’s a poet trapped in there somewhere
Spencer McGarry (Prononced McGuigan) – Spencer is singer and guitarist with Spencer McGarry Season, hes from Cardiff , which is why McGarry is pronounced McGuigan- I call that phonetic rebelliousness, still he’s a nice bloke and hes got some cracking songs here. He was late for the review, no harm done we all get hangovers. . Spencer is gigging with Pony Up soon, but I’m not jealous , no not one bit, not at all….
This Months Singles
FRAN : “I’ve got nothing bad to say about them. Each track of their latest record could be a single. Also, it’s very catchy. Therefore should be massive. But it’s not.”
LAURA : “I’ve always thought that these furry fellows were as dull as shit, but this song surprised me, its like some sort of comedic Ramones-y Phil Spector 60s girl group cocktail and Gruff Rhys’ voice actually suits this romantic kind of thing. I love the massiveness of the drums and stuff. But I think they should have maybe chilled out on the chorus at the end of the song, its probably the weakest part and by the 1,000 000th time you hear it, you forget what you’ve been listening to. I had a screwdriver – to – temple moment by the 1000th time I had heard ‘Ru u u u u u un away……….’ thats what i did today…’, …….. aaaargh! “
DOGWOOD: “Now I don’t want to get all Hugh Scully about this but it sounds like a Shangri La’s 45 played at 16. It starts out promising but then goes all maudlin on you, like one of those bi-polar types, and like them it could do with pulling itself together. I understand that these chaps are at the ‘vanguard of the alternative Welsh rock scene’. The words ‘vanguard’ and ‘alternative’ conjure up bearded men in cords munching a nut roast citing poetry and I for one don’t want to visit that particular space thank you very much…………”
SPENCER : Mid paced fuzzy sound showcasing the thick effortless tones of Gruff’s s impeccable voice- he should get more credit as a singer. Personally I still hark for the experimentalism and excitement of Gorilla although I only say that because I know how astounding they can be- otherwise this song is fine.
MR LION : “Not only does this track have an enveloping, Phil Spectoresque aural texture that you can get lost in, it actually sounds every inch like an old girl-group record, with its spoken word introduction and longing vocals. It’s really a very different sound for the band, which I’m glad they’ve tried out on this track. But then I may be a bit biased; I can’t say anything bad about a laid-back Welshman who wears a Power Rangers helmet onstage. I like it.”
ELZ: “I thought I was going to really like this song when it started, but then it just… stayed the same. All the way through. What’s the point of that, really? Oh, hang on, it’s just got a bit different – nope, back again. I already feel like I’ve heard it five hundred times after three minutes. It’s got a nice tune, but I don’t want to give it a second listen. That said, I’ll probably love it tomorrow. I can already feel it working its way into my brain.”
MIKEY : “Be My Baby” sung by fuzzy welsh potheads. 8/10″
VON PIP: ” Yeah its Ok, the Furries confuse me though, they can be great or just grate , there’s no in between. Apart from now. I reckon I`ll love it by tomorrow morning, but will I still respect it ?”
MR LION: “The vocalist puts me in mind of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, only a bit rougher around the edges. The keyboard and guitar sounds are interesting, although I have to admit I’m not sure if the static is intentional or a symptom of the myspace player. Gosh, she is angry, isn’t she? I’m not sure I approve of all the gratuitous cursing, but I suppose the young people express themselves that way these days. It’s not really my cup of tea, but they seem to have a lot of energy.”
SPENCER : Starts off reminding me of the vulnerability of Kimya Dawson when she sang with/as the MoldyPeaches, before introducing a more raucous, sonorous (sic) edge. The song itself goes off in unexpected directions (good drums) and makes me want to see them live. Aggressive without being boring. ( a bit Like Roy Keane ?-Ed . Always wanted to do that Ed thing )
VON PIP: “Yes indeedy I love this song, granted not what I’d listen to before bed whilst sipping my milky Horlicks, but for a Friday night rev up -perfect! It’s cheeky,brash and loud, yet with a soft tender underbelly, a bit like Tony Wilson, but obvioulsy with much more get up and go . Makes me want to leap around like a mad clown and throw buckets of glitter over policemen.”
MIKEY: Schuzzzy this time, not fuzzy. Overdrive that desk, baby. 6/10
FRAN: Not too bad, but not too great either, A bit too shouty for my liking.
ELZ: This isn’t my thing at all. I thought it might be, once I got past the beginning, but it turns out to not be at all. I enjoy melodies. The melody in this song is being hidden very well by their singer. Thumbs down.
DOGWOOD : Now settle down. I don’t know who Jake Summers is and I don’t know what he’s done to deserve such a relentless barrage of the senses and frankly life’s too short. All I can say is you must have done something bad my lad. It starts quite innocuously, a lass starts singing and then it gave me a headache. This may sound more acceptable in the hands (or mouth) of someone like Boney M, who could always do justice to quite bizarre concepts.
LAURA : I’m good friends with these gorgeous Irish monkeys, they are the funnest kids on the block and this song is actually a stroke of pure simple genius, it has everything, absolutley everything I could want in a song. The lyrics are witty, completely addictive and brilliant, from ‘hey you , get some grace, you’re like kentucky fried chicken but without the taste!’ to ‘hey baby I’m the bedroom king..I’m so sorry for breaking your ding-a-ling-a-ling!’ It gets me in some kind of orgasmic fit. The melodies glide around, there’s huge hurricanes of keyboards (there are NO guitars in this band! ) and goes from being totally crazy and rock n’ roll to bed wettingly heartfelt in a snap second . May Kay is a complete superstar, she performs this song with so much passion and should be an inspiration to all us frontmen/women out there, an amazing song. WOOHOOOO!
Song 3 TAKE THAT Rule The World
VON PIP: “The only band that can make Westlife sound like “System Of A Down.” But this music is vital, vital in the sense that we can educate our kids “Son, this what we call in the trade “a great big bag o’shite.” I could go on about how this corporate cobblers is a metaphor for all that is wrong with the capitalist system, but I won’t. What I will say is:- what’s all this nonsense about reinventing Take That as a force for good ? People waffle on citing “Shine” as if they’ve had some “Road to Damascus ” conversion and have realised that Take That are alight really. Well you’re not getting away with it, do you hear! “Shine” still sounded to me like Fatty Barlow trying to take a dump in a bus shelter in Congleton, “Shine” ? “Shite” more like. But it’s only a harmless pop song, albeit a big fat steaming pile of poo of a song and one that will sell shed loads. Yes it’s harmless.. nothing to GET WORKED UP ABOUT !”
LAURA : “Gary Barlow wants to ‘Ride On A Star’ with us if we ’stay by his side’, apparently. I might follow him around and see if he’s lying… I love the way they only give you 1minute of the song(on Myspace) to keep you on your toes, as if the second half isnt going to be exactly the same as the first half. I know this is a predictable thing to say but I cant believe that hundreds of thousands of people ACTUALLY buy this stuff…like actually hear this on the radio and say ‘that was so beautiful…they’re lovely fellas them…aren’t they…’ and then go out to Woolworths and buy it. Actually I can…. I guess they are people who only own 5 cds…(two of which are “Now.. 22″ and “Now… 24″). I saw a program about female Take That fans who convinced their fatherless children that their real fathers were members of Take That….. by pointing at Gary or Howard or whatever and saying ‘look! its daddy!’ I mean that is probably the most disturbing thing ever…..fuck a doodle doo. Anyway….survey says…..’shit sandwich.’
SPENCER: I saw old GB in Dublin Castle last month he looked match fit- The That are back! Alas the song fades out after the first chorus on their myspace (failure to understand modern marketing techniques by the majors- they’re loosing again) so I can’t hold a proper opinion- unless it is actually about 30 seconds long in which case I like it- epic production in a tiny space”
DOGWOOD: “Rule the world? The cry of every megalomaniac since the dawn of time and I suppose Take That are no different, although this sounds like something you’d hear at a Labour Party Conference as a soundtrack to Gordon Brown’s global ambitions. Like Brown, it’s tepid, insipid, bland and has as much chance of ruling the world as him calling an election today. Rhubarb.”
ELZ: “Mums across the planet must adore this song.”
MIKEY: “Bland bland sexy Marks and Spencers music for 37 year old ladies. with a bit of A-ha thrown in. 1/10″
FRAN: ” I never liked them, and this song isn’t going to change my mind. ‘Shine’ was better, anyway.” :P
MR LION: “Take That… well, they’re better than the Arctic Monkeys.If I can blot out the scars of my adolescence caused by these greasy catalogue models and look at this track objectively, I guess it’s a nice little ballad, when all’s said and done. The context may not be necessary, but it is quite telling that this is a movie theme, and although I shudder at the thought of Gary Barlow getting an Oscar, it’s probably worth noting that among all the worthless awards that are out there today, the Oscar for best music hasn’t been worth a dime since they gave one to Phil Collins. I digress. Since Shine came out, I’ve had to accept the truth that this group of blokes, who are still badly in need of haircuts, can actually turn out a nice little pop tune. The production is certainly not as hollow and heartless as it used to be in their heyday, which can only be a good thing.Loses points though, because myspace only offers the first verse and chorus before fading out. Hmph.”
Song 4 KINGS OF LEON Charmer
DOGWOOD: “This is about as charming as one of my Aunt Sandra’s love bites which she dishes out gratis to any poor sod who happens to be in the Arndale Centre. I must admit I was quite taken by the name – Kings of Leon, sounds quite regal but as soon as the caterwauling and screeching started it began to take me back to Jake Summers and I didn’t think I could face him twice in a day. Would appeal to a certain breed of psychotic teenager.”
ELZ: “Oh my god, STOP SCREAMING. Other than that… actually, I’m not sure there is an “other than that”. The screaming is just so distracting that I can’t concentrate on any good parts of the song. Okay, there was a nice intro. With no screaming. And this instrumental break with no screaming is also rather– oh, a scream.”
SPENCER: Now this is great- good melody,I like the barking. Also the drums don’t come in where you’d expect- sounds like the Pixies with some light Iron Maiden guitars- still can’t work out that bass- worth a few listens- also like the line about giving Karma to the farmer- they make it work- but it shouldn’t on paper.
MR LION: “Well, they’re mightily ticked off about something, aren’t they? I have to be honest, if I were telling the tale of a young lady who was something of a charmer, I may be able to inject a little joy into the crooning. But then, I am no minstrel, and these fellows are not serenading a fair damsel. This kind of attitude should be expected from a band whose top eight My Space friends appears to consist mainly of groupies, I suppose. Not for me, I have to say.”
VON PIP: “Isn’t their Myspace page “friends” supposed to be representative of the song “Fans” *consults solicitors over Mr Lions Kings Of Leon’s Fan Slur*. Anyway I truly loved Kings Of Leon’s “Youth And Young Manhood” a classic, but I don’t think anything they’ve done since has lived up to that. Somebody told me this was actually called “Chalmers” I was hoping for a tale about how Judith Chalmers was managing without her license fee funded holidays, but I fear I have been misled. I like the lazy drawling vocal,(Horlicks ? Pfft Toilet Duck please with a splash of Domestos , just to take the edge off it) and the scratchy guitars … but the scream keeps making me jump. Arrgh I’ve just split my hot Bovril all over my slacks!!! “
MIKEY: “My brother dates my sister and my uncle dates my sister and my cousin dates my sister and my sister dates me…good tune…but they’re a bit inbred yah…- 2 heads. 7.5/10″
FRAN: “Is it the samey “indie” that’s so in fashion nowadays? Yes it is. Do we need yet another Strokes soundalike?”
LAURA:” I love their new album, it’s so fucking cool. This song actually could be the Pixies, love the way its so stripped down and raw. It sounds like he’s singing through a blender after swigging paint stripper which is definitely a good thing. I really admire them for not over doing this song, its sexy and simple and great to jump around to when your over the limit. They have completely ripped off The Pixies on this though. Nevermind. It’s REALLY GOOD. “
Song 5 THOSE DANCING DAYS – Hitten
LAURA :“I cant decide whether I love these little pixies or hate them. I really wanted to like them for some reason, maybe because they look so cute or something . After listening to this song about 13 times I realised these things:-….they remind me of the Sugababes …. if they were Swedish and could play guitars…. and they are probably going to be massive. The lyrics are a bit suspect at times in a kind of ‘we just made everything rhyme…’ kind of way, but it adds to the sweet charm of the song and although the vocal line is a bit unimaginative at times, the keyboards save the day with a tune that really infects. I can imagine 13 year old girls loving it, and I’m happier that they listen to this than the Sugababes. “
FRAN: “Great stuff, cannot wait to hear a full album. I heard someone saying ‘the new Pipettes’ : not quite, but great nonetheless.”
MIKEY: “The pippiest poppiest pop soppyness this side of the pip,pop Pipettes. 7/10″
SPENCER: “Some interesting out of synch keyboard sounds, don’t like the vocal a bit amercan teen series, like someone has kidnapped Brooke Hogan and tied her to Belle and Sebastian with the flu.”
VON PIP : “Along with Nick and Jason from Tack!Tack!Tack! I helped discover these young scamps under a cabbage leaf in The Anders Panders Garden of Pop . Yes, and we helped create a buzz using t’internet. So I am biased and therefore can only say, great wonky pop. Even better when you learn that the bands collective age is just 2 years old. Interesting fact ,”Hitten” means “The Hit”
ELZ: “Now, this is proper pop. I like the synthy-keyboardy bits in this, though I’m afraid the vocals are a little bit too similar to something I can’t put my finger on but apparently dislike, to really grab me. I can’t deny the danceability, though! And the chorus is just fab.”
MR LION:” Now, there’s that joy I was after! The drums at the beginning almost made me believe I was about to get Pull Shapes by the Pipettes, which is never a bad thing. The upbeat tempo and happy key are quite deceptive, since the words are clearly quite melancholy and the message of the song seems to be one of longing for things to be different. I have less to say about this because I like it so much, but short of enthusing maniacally, I’ll just give it a simple thumbs-up.”
DOGWOOD: “Sounds like Dusty Springfield. So far so good. Goes a bit wonky but then recovers. That’s OK, we all have our wonky moments. They’re Swedish. Oh well. The lass singer is very pleasant on the ear and this is by far the best of the bunch. Yes, very pleasant I could imagine Daniel O’Donnell doing this although with a bit more of an Irish lilt like. A top of the pops for sure. I’d buy this and play it on my show I would. Settle down.”
And Finally A Video and Song – KYLIE ” TWO HEARTS”
MIKEY-“Sassy Aussie Goldfrapp copysville. 4/10″
SPENCER: “What can I say? Kylie’s art belongs in the visual medium. This is a bit flat though with obvious falsetto added to give it a missing ‘something’. Kylie is in one of her perodically forgettable dips but don’t worry folks- she’ll get better ”
ELZ : “Reviewing a video, this takes me back… So, well…-this is a bit rubbish, isn’t it? It’s also very much a Madonna rip-off, the video at least. The song is intensely catchy, but the video looks like someone’s chucked Kylie in a blender with Blond Ambition Madonna, Marilyn Monroe and a little bit of Alison Goldfrapp to round things out. The song is already stuck in my head after a listen-and-a-half, so I imagine she’s got another hit on her hands, but I don’t think it’s her best.”
DOGWOOD: Oh dear, oh dear oh dear oh dear. Now I know this lass, not personally like but I am aware of celebrity status and I have to say that watching this video the words ‘trying too hard’ sprung to mind. Let’s be honest, she’s a nice lass who wants to be a bad girl, can’t quite pull it off and ends up looking like a stunt double for that loud mouthed American harridan Madonna. Don’t do it lass, go back to singing about lollipops and locomotions, or whatever it is that you do. The video is an unconvincing cacophony of lads in quifs, slightly odd looking boy/girls in make up. I’m no Noel Edmonds but even I know that this looks and sounds like a cheap Christmas bauble.
MR LION : My love of Kylie goes back a long way. While I admit there’s a bandwagon that got moving when Spinning Around was released, and also a sympathy embargo on anybody who has a harsh word to say about a woman who survived breast cancer, it’s worth noting that her career has been a rocky one and it’s something of an achievement to still warrant such positive attention after so long in the cold light of the music industry. I think this is a brilliant track and yet another welcome change in direction for both her sound and her image. I’m not naive enough to think that this is in anyway Ms Minogue’s own doing; I’m quite aware that there’s a multinational marketing machine behind her and a manufactured corporate image. With that in mind, the video really is an exercise in style, which isn’t always a bad thing in pop promos. The lady herself looks fantastic, as always, and I personally like the hair and makeup and costumes. It’s fairly unmemorable though, and I’m sure the song will live with me much longer than the video does. Thumbs up again then, and thank heavens this didn’t turn out to be a cover of that old Phil Collins song of the same name. Good grief, have I really mentioned him twice today?
FRAN: I like it when she tries something different from what she did in the past. (Then again, I’m one of the very few people who liked her ‘indie’ record from 1997. ‘Some Kind Of Bliss’ and ‘Did It Again’ were fabulous. So underrated.) This one is a grower. A bit Goldfrapp-ish, both track and video.
LAURA: Kyleeeee does rock! Err no…yet again Kylie does a Madonna…by reinventing herself and getting some more botox. Great outfits and stuff and it is a beautifully presented pop package but there always seems to be something desperate and contrived about Kylie, like there’s a bunch of other people telling her how and what to sing and what to wear (shock shock horror!) where as Madge is quite obviously the mastermind behind herself and is completely in control of EVERYTHING she does and will always do this kind of thing better. But who cares? its pop and the song is flawless in terms of production and is a safe bet for a number one. Maybe I’m just jealous of her black and silver catsuit……drool…………..
VON PIP: Crivins whoose just drooled on my head? ! I wonder if this is a very smart piece of marketing, Kylie to appear in Doc Who at Xmas “2 Hearts” ? clever! I often wonder what Ramsey Streets Harold Bishop would have made of young Charlene Mitchell’s sex kitten shenanigans. This is as smooth as a freshly buttered banister..with less emotional depth. Our Kylie’s never been a great singer, and her voice is as thin as newly strained cabbage water here, her actings passable but she’s no Meryl Streep either. Our Kylie remains ever popular though, I suppose because she seems like a nice person, I have more time for her than I do for the likes of that dreadful gurning cretin Robbie Williams, or other “musical products.” Sadly if I were to analyse the reason why I don’t mind Our Kylie too much it would probably reveal me to be as shallow a puddle in the Strzelecki Desert. Yes two words- “hot pants”, I can’t deny they can get most chaps hot and bothered. I really rather like the song but then again I was a fan of the original which I much prefer. Sadly Our Kylie doesn’t add much to it vocally, she has a tendency when doing covers to give the song a “Dementor’s Kiss” whereby she has an uncanny ability to extract all the joy, verve and life from the original … still thats never hindered “Pert cheeks” Minogue in the past- …will be huge..Have a listen to the original…2 Hearts by Kish Mauve
Much better I think
Well thanks to all the reviewers, Laura, Mr Lion, Fran, Elz, Mikey,Spencer and of course Dogwood it looks like Those Dancing Days is the winner this time round, I wonder what the readers opinions are …..until next time …keep your feet on the ground and reach for the stars ….I’m off for a nice cup of a certain milky malted bedtime drink……..
( The VPME Review is sponsored by Horlicks and Bovril)