[Generic Halloween puns] Booooo! Woooo! ARGHH! GRAGHHH! Ghosts and Ghouls, NIGHTMARE singles (God I’m good at this), songs that have a CERTAIN AMOUNT OF BITE, drum beats that will GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT! (OOOOHH I’m ON A ROLE!) erm…zombies ‘and that. [/Generic Halloween puns]. Can I not just make the entire round-up this week a cacophony of cack come-downs regarding All Hallows Eve? No? FINE. Then let’s end this charade and carry on with looking at some of this week’s new single releases…
Juan Zelada isn’t JUST a bloody hilarious way to order salads in Spain – oh no! He’s also an insanely warm singer releasing his second single, The Blues Remain, this week. Despite the strange name choice (there’s nothing blues about this track) Zelada has constructed a nice MOR track that will delight and enthral BBC Radio 2 listeners for millennia. It may perhaps not captivate ‘alternative music’ devotees but The Blues Remain is happily hipster and rather charming – think of Zelada as something to claw back some sanity after listening to the out-of-this-world Tom Waits. Reminiscent of Paulo Nutini but less one-dimensional and bland, Juan Zelada maintains the touch of class and finesse that can often come across as tacky and insipid in highly-polished studio recordings. The Blues Remain is massively inoffensive and will be nestled in Auntie June’s Christmas stocking next month but it’s a good mainstream track. Everyone on the video is all happy-smiley – WE ARE HAVING A GOOD TIME AND ARE ALL VERY RELAXED – WHAT DO YOU MEAN I LOOK FAKE!? – But the track isn’t completely corporate and it still possesses a soul.
The most damning thing for a piece of music to be is boring. It’s infinitely better to create something people don’t understand or even enjoy rather than distil flavourless NOTHING. Unfortunately Dog Is Dead have decided to release Hands Down – a single so limp-wristed it’s a miracle they have the strength to hold their guitars. The track is musical purgatory that will never inspire anyone to do anything other than sit on their hands and cry of frustration (I’m typing this with my nose). Normally when I’m negative about a band/artist I like to give constructive criticism – musicians have more talent in their nostril hairs than us lowly music journalists in our entire bodies – but WHAT IS THE POINT in giving constructive arguments against something that is blank space. It would be the equivalent of re-arranging dust in a room. I’m not saying I hate this song, or that I dislike it – I feel COMPLETE NOTHING for this single because it’s not worthy of anything from anyone. Ever. If you want to listen to modern ‘indie-alternative’ with hints of electronica then listen to Foster The People – not Dog Is Dead.
The Dø (no idea how to pronounce that) are offering us the falsetto fabulousness of Too Insistent this week. The French/Danish collaboration brings bright and enthusiastic European colourfulness together with undercurrents of harshly brisk Nordic winds. The track is gorgeously multi-layered, keeping the listener constantly intrigued and interested despite the piece actually conforming to tried-and-tested structures. Olivia Merilahti’s vocals are the devastating ice that cuts through the musical chocolate soundsphere. Listeners will find it hard not to fall for the childish (in a good way) chorus and naive composition of Too Insistent. The Dø’s sound is quintessentially richly layered Euro-loveliness, and carries on where Stereo Total left off and The Asteroids Galaxy Tour continue to tread – it’s the type of piece that the UK, due to our glorious cynicism, can never quite perfect. I’m not sure if they’ll be able to sustain a full album from the same ingredients as Too Insistent, but time shall tell.
Within the first ten seconds you know How It Ended is a track by The Drums. One of the few modern bands to sculpt a sound and truly make it their own (Vampire Weekend to name another), you know what you’re getting with The Drums immediately. It’s a bit of a waste of time to get into the specifics of the track itself to be honest! Before listening to How It Ended you already know it’s got jangly guitar and lazy, talkative lyrics amongst driving drums that possess the knack of also being oddly mellow. Hang on…I just…damn. In spite of the ‘expected’ music, the lyrics accompanying the track are brilliant – they’re creative and arty, but weighty enough to feel genuine, with Pierce recounting rose-tinted memories of past relationships in a thoroughly thoughtful manner. If you love The Drums you’ll love How It Ended – at the same time, if you’ve ever been even vaguely aware of the band then this will pass over your head. However, if you’ve (somehow) been unaware of the trio may just prick their ears…
Miniature Dinosaurs are releasing Alligator this week. The intro is interesting and gets the listener paying attention straight from ‘Play’. The vocals are intriguing – I spent the first listen trying to figure out the accent more than anything. It’s massively refreshing to not hear vastly heavy mock-American voices or accentuated and forced accents in a song for once. Alligator is stripped-down basic power-pop that is ultimately a lot of fun and highly infectious. There’s something devilishly appealing about the track that’s hard to put your finger on. The synths sound like something left on Bonnie Tyler’s cutting room floor, and there’s never a ‘kick on’ moment in the track, yet for some reason Alligator is utterly compelling and always forces another play-through. Miniature Dinosaurs are what would have happened to Cake if they spent all their money on sweets during the recording of Comfort Eagle and could only afford three instruments.
Upon listening to Born Blonde’s Radio Bliss an obvious question immediately leaps out – why did they not release this over the summer? It’s begging to be the soundtrack to countless beach holidays and lazy days in the beer garden. Ah well, no matter – it shall serve us well to warm us up during the winter! Suggestive of Shed Seven and Kula Shaker (the good KS…), Radio Bliss evokes hedonistic Brit-Pop whilst holding onto enough modern sensibilities for it not to be considered old-hat and ‘done’. The lyrics are forgettable (it hardly matters) but there’s enough about the track to keep things interesting, including the deep and soulful harmonies and palpitating bass tones. Epicurean at the centre yet totally accessible, Radio Bliss’ main problem may be that it’s not sufficiently radio-friendly for mass radio in this era, and not quite far-flung and dreamy enough for everything else (however who am I to say you can’t be both?) For sheer, unadulterated escapism, then look no further than Born Blonde.
It’s been a bit of an insipid round-up this week I’m afraid. We’ve had a few definite highs, but also been marred by white noise lows. No matter! There’s really only The Dø and Born Blonde that were in contention this week, and the brilliant Radio Bliss by Born Blonde has come out on top. Radio Bliss embodies everything that Dog Is Dead’s Hands Down lacks – it’s dangerous, vulnerable and doesn’t sit of the fence. It’s not boring and lets us vacate the planetoid of bland for a few precious minutes.