Everyone’s banging on about new Domino Records signing Austra. Well, add Getintothis’ Jonathan Birchall to the list. It’s like a scary bike race apparently. Make your own mind up.
Austra: Beat and the Pulse – Single of the Week
Canadian outfit Austra offer the same soft, industrial monotony that New Order did so beautifully on second album Power Corruption & Lies, which is, for all intents and purposes, the best of an amazing bunch.
Lyrically, Beat and the Pulse contrasts the metronomic synth with an enchanting duo of voices, both sounding a little like Regine Chassange, just with varied amounts of echo on each. It’s stupid and indulgent and fantastic.
Ever had that dream where you’re riding the Tour De France and then Kraftwerk overtake you but they all have Florence Welch‘s head as opposed to the sober German faces that we know and love? If not, you should listen to this and prepare the best kind of mental scarring possible in three and a half minutes.
Lykke Li: I Follow Rivers
Lykke Li‘s debut album Youth Novels takes a perverse fleece wearing, brown cheese eating pride in sounding Scandinavian. Some of her hooks sound so ideal for dark winter/fresh summer clichÃ© that you question if it’s not actually a 45 minute propaganda exercise used by Ikea to get everybody rushing to Warrington to stock up on SurstrÃ¶mming and Floogs. This is no bad thing. In fact, it’s decidedly brilliant.
As is I Follow Rivers, the second single from the 24-year-old’s upcoming album Wounded Rhymes, in which Li continues with an all together more mature sound than what was found in Youth Novels, with deep tribal drums so infectious that they are begging for some terrible remix by some peak-capped, warbling imposter claiming to produce dubstep. As with so many, the music world would be a much more pleasant place without the insistence of morons to tamper with simple brilliance such as this.
Video Villain: Fearless
‘The only thing certain in life is change‘ is the mantra of this song and it doesn’t let you forget it. Breaking out, standing alone, being an independent man/woman all feature heavily in this debut single from Leeds duo Marie France and Lucy Catherwood.
For all intents and purposes, Fearless is Bridget Jones for people that like headbanging primitively in a club basement, letting their emotions explode through what looks like some half arsed attempt at interpretive dance. These people are usually alone.
There are some samples that a comfortably familiar and a whirring sound that makes you go along for the ride but other than for an advert for the next series of Hollyoaks Later, it’s difficult to see where this album really fits in. Then again, that’s probably exactly what Video Villain want. Girl Power!
Lupe Fiasco: The Show Goes On
Lupe Fiasco seems like a remarkably nice bloke and despite an initial suspicion over his debut album Food and Liquor, I eventually (and some would say inevitably) succumbed to it’s charming and shamelessly catchy Hip-Pop.
I must admit however, that I cannot stand Superstar – the album’s stand out single.
I have a bit of a problem with marketing ‘inspiration’ you see. Superstar and The Show Goes On are a little like a Livestrong band only it isn’t for charity and you can’t escape it wherever you go.
Do I resent him this? Of course not but I just can’t shift that irksome feeling that this admittedly addictive song has been produced for the soul purpose of appearing on reality show montages and for half cut morons to ‘bounce’ to. I can almost gurantee that you and I will prefer the rest of upcoming album ‘Lasers’ much, much more than this toothache sweet single. Oh and he sampled Modest Mouse. Badly. For shame Lupe, for shame.
Iron and Wine: Walking Far From Home
This song shouldn’t be very good. It is, essentially, Sam Beam listing things that he ‘saw’ while Walking Far From Home with some Bon Iver-ish choral oohing and ahhing towards the end but by Christ he does it well.
There are slight intricacies when listening to Iron and Wine that stop you wanting to climb into your speakers to slap some cold, hard sense into him and this single is a perfect example of that. It’s nice but not too nice.
Rhythmic but not too rhythmic. Don’t get me wrong, there were moments during my 18th consecutive listen of Walking Far From Home where I thought it was going to go too far and become awful but somehow it didn’t.
Like a writer knowing when to hold back and not stretch a metaphor until it ludicrously snaps, Beam has mastered the art of restraint. I could learn a lot from him.
Chilly Gonzales: You Can Dance
I can’t dance, I can’t sway and I certainly can’t jive. However, this song almost convinces me otherwise. You Can Dance is a bit like good Jamiroquai, so much so in fact that however hard I try to convey my serious reviewer face while listening to it, my cheeks appear to find it impossible and I break out into a slightly unnerving, semi-grin for which I can only apologise to those sat near me in Leaf.
To call this single feel-good would be to do it an injustice, the production is razor sharp without taking away from its “hey guys, welcome to the party, grab some homemade punch” vibe and the piano is complex to a point where somebody that can’t tinkle those ivories, myself emphatically included, gives up trying and submits, applauding what’s a very enjoyable track indeed.
Ringo DeathStarr: So High
I should probably be slaughtered for comparing So High to My Bloody Valentine because it really isn’t like any of their songs at all. If anything, it’s more Belle and Sebastian, just with less acerbic wit and more repetitive lyrics. However, I’m going for it. If My Bloody Valentine were commissioned to do a happy-go-lucky, fast forwarded video of an attractive pair of best friends on a tandem bike short film score, this would be it.
That doesn’t mean I like it. It would be nice for a band with a pun in its name to actually rock the boat and be horrendously dark and twisted just for once. There’s nothing wrong with So High, its just others, namely Fugazi, have done this kind of thing with a lot more craft and misery years ago. I might have liked this in a better mood; I’ll try again tomorrow and be sure to let you know.
Magnetic Man: Getting Nowhere
This song is going to be massive. Magnetic Man are going to be massive. These are the conclusions I have come to after listening to this track a few times. The collaboration of Skream, Benga and Artwork seems like a logical supergroup as dubstep continues its baffling explosion into, around and all over the mainstream. Getting Nowhere, with it’s smooth, approachable beats, is going nowhere for the next few months.
Bringing in John Legend is a masterstroke as well, adding that next level of all encompassing easiness and listenability. This is a song designed to offer a big welcoming hug to Radio 1 listeners, not scare them off with something overly challenging or, whisper it, different.
I am fairly confident in saying that this song will cement the largely ambiguous genre that is dubstep into the clubs, radios and Macbooks of almost everybody it meets. Like Skream‘s remix of In For The Kill, the masses will love this. I don’t but there’s certainly no escaping it.