The Singles Jukebox
Ooh, I Didn’t Know The Eels Were Fun!



i was gonna say that this is another one of Those Weeks, but then I realised that the UK singles market appears to only have two varieties of week—the one when loads comes out, and the one when there’s fuck all. This is one of the former though, and oh, what a mighty leviathan it is—New Order, Turin Brakes, Eels, J-Lo, Black Eyed Peas, him out of Matchbox 20, Kaiser Chiefs, Mylo, and, er, Sleater-Kinney all await our panel this week. First though, the highly anticipated (if you’re a broadsheet music writer) return of THE BIGGEST BRITISH ROCK GROUP EVER OF THE PAST TEN YEARS. Oasis are back. See if you can guess what Alex Macpherson’s given them…


Oasis – Lyla
[2.31]


Tom Ewing: Our editor sent out a stern warning this week, saying we should be less trigger-happy with the zero marks and should be sure to explain them well. With this in mind I approached "Lyla" with respect, wanting to give it the mark it genuinely deserved, reacting to it based on its merits rather than out of some petty personal spite. So....zero. Zero, zero, a thousand times zero which however you add them up still makes zero. Every time they come back they manage to trail their record with a single more joyless and desperate than last time, which is pretty difficult since last time it was "The Hindu Times". This morning's Observer devoted a whole bloody page to an article asking if Oasis 'still had it', as if the evidence of the last TEN AWFUL YEARS wasn't enough. But I haven't mentioned the music OH NO, well here we go: it sounds like "Mona" by Craig McLachlan and Check One Two except it's more rubbish.
[0]

David Jones: ‘Lyla’ is so fucking hackneyed it’s nauseous. So basic that the junior “play along” sheet music has had extra chords added. So plodding that they’ve received a copyright infringement lawsuit from a group of diplodocuses. So lyrically obtuse it could baffle a group of metaphysical poets: “Calling all the stars to fall/And catch the silver sunlight in your hands/come for me, set me free,/Lift me up and take me where I stand/Go and catch a falling star/Get with child by mandrake root…” The new album may or may not be a return to form but—personally—it’s been a good eight years since the sound of Oasis has inspired anything other than a desire to find a pub with a better jukebox.
[1]

Barima Nyantekyi: Things you should take notice of re: Oasis in 2005 - Liam's accuracy is choosing musical targets to diss (and praise...be to the Church. Yes, I punned. Go on, sue). Anyone who doesn't agree that the names given in Liam's spiel didn't deserve a fat lampoon target painted on their backs is just kiddin' themselves. Things you shouldn't: their music. As sad as it is that the best rebuttal to Liam was "They're just not relevant anymore" (Keane, maybe. Or the drummer for Gay D… Bloc Party), it's also true, and has been for a decade. And because I've only ever liked 2 of their songs, I'm willing to go further than that. Lyla is the sound of 5 blokes ruining your night in the pub merely by picking up the instruments on the stage and giving it "a bit of attitude" with the stares. We can either remake Liam and Noel into Shaun 'n' Bez pundit types for 2006 and beyond, or we can just indulge them for another decade. The public will go for the latter. I will go after the public. And it's all Oasis' fault.
[1]

Alex MacPherson: Too much commentary on the unwelcome return of Oasis has talked of their 'decline'. Let's get one thing straight: there has been no decline. They have always been fucking abysmal, and nothing I've heard by them has ever caused a reaction other than nausea and disgust that not only is such a band is not only permitted to exist but that they appear to have been somewhat popular once upon a time. Everything which is rotten about British attitudes towards culture can be encapsulated in this band: the aspiration to (not just satisfaction with) utter mediocrity; the myopic, exclusionary, dim-witted pre-conceived ideas about 'rock'n'roll' and other such lunk-headed phrases; the nerve to wax forth about their self-perceived greatness. And my god, the song is all of the above minus any semblance of tune or structure or anything which really qualifies it to be 'music' as opposed to some twats down the pub grunting monosyllabically at each other. Cunts.
[0]

Fergal O’Reilly: I'd find it difficult to pin down any particular musical reason why this is any worse than their other stuff, it just seems to be a textbook example of a long past-it band engaging in the vaguely poignant dog-chasing-its-own-tail spectacle of desperately trying to recover whatever intangible quality it is that made their early stuff great. The result is the too familiar 'sounding like a feeble simulacrum of your former self' effect. Won't actually make any difference, of course, as it'll chart well and the slow-witted, hyper-defensive core fanbase will still lap it up and inflict confused, capitalised screeds about people 'hating Oasis to be fashionable' etc on forums all over the internet. Business as usual, really.
[3]

Mike Atkinson: Scoff all you like, but Oasis are one of my guilty pleasures. Impossible to explain why, but there’s something about the sheer brass-necked obviousness of their musical thievery, and their brazen “best rock band in the world” arrogance, which I actually find quite endearing. Thus every few years, when Noel gives his statutory “best album since Definitely Maybe” interview, I always find myself longing for it to be true, and making every possible allowance in the process. And so it is with “Lyla”, whose thrilling musical innovation stems from a) a mildly diverting rhythmic twist in the chorus, which they then proceed to repeat as often as they can get away with, and b) ripping off the Stones rather than the Beatles for a change. Specifically “Street Fighting Man”. Yes, that’s Disc 1, Track 1 of the 40 Licks compilation, about 15 seconds in. Hey, why waste time looking any further? That’s for pretentious tossers, that is. Blur would do that. Anyway, I fully expect to see a sea of zeroes from the rest of the panel, but I DON’T FOOKIN CARE, because this is going to be FOOKIN NUMBER ONE ANYWAY, so WHO GIVES A FOOK WHAT YOU THINK?
[7]


Turin Brakes – Fishing For A Dream
[2.58]


Tom Ewing: Turin Brakes undertake a science project to once and for all prove the link between Nick Drake and Belle And Sebastian, by jumping un-nervingly from one to the other. The most surprising thing they've done, until the novelty wears off and that snotty dishrag voice reminds you who you're listening to.
[4]

Doug Robertson: Listening to this, you get the feeling that if the only thing they dream about is of a life in accountancy, and even that has them waking up with their hearts giving it nineteen to the dozen as the thought of it is all a bit too racy for them.
[4]

Joe Macare:“Let's put on 'Moonlight Mile'”, sings Ollie Knights, and you can't help but agree—yes, let's put on 'Moonlight Mile' or alternatively '1 Thing' by Amerie or something by The Kills or some death metal or some happy hardcore or even a Cliff Richard song—anything, in fact, that isn't this maudlin middle-of-the-road acoustic guitar dirge. Let's put on earmuffs or smash our music player of choice to pieces with a sledgehammer rather than listening to 'Fishing For A Dream' again.
[2]

Mike Atkinson: Winsome, wistful, suffocatingly agreeable folksy acoustic strumalong, of no particular consequence. Not that I’m averse to folksy acoustic strumalongs in any way, but Kings Of Convenience do this sort of thing so much better. (And so did Ben & Jason, for that matter. Anyone remember them?)
[5]

Edward Oculicz: I have liked one or two Turin Brakes singles, but this is music for pale, antisocial students who are slightly afraid of girls. Never before have I been so irritated by the pronunciation of the word "a" than at the very start of this song.
[3]

Mike Barthel: OH MY GOD PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO IMITATE BEN GIBBARD I HAVE TO GO PUT CONCRETE IN MY EARS NOW. Look, rule of thumb, if your song starts off with you and an acoustic guitar, stop and ask yourself: is it as good as Leonard Cohen? If the answer is no, please try not to let the public hear it. We'll all thank you. Even worse, this song could lyrically have been a Busted song, which begs the question: why wasn't it?
[1]


Jennifer Lopez feat. Fat Joe – Hold You Down
[2.92]


Mike Barthel: Who produced this? Can we find him and forcibly take away his chimes? This one track exhausts his entire lifetime ration of the warm tinklies.
[1]

Fergal O’Reilly: Inoffensive tune rendered awful by Je-Lop's presence on it; her hideously nasal voice is one thing but the protests-too-much 'I'm Real I Am' preoccupation got old a long time ago.
[2]

Edward Oculicz: Jennifer has always been at her most passable when she is a faceless disco cog whose lack of real personality enables her to work both within her comfort zone, and with the beat. The more R&B she gets, the less this holds. She sounds flown in, the effect is always unconvincing and vaguely comical. Weird that someone who on the surface always seems to be a blinging, bitchy diva always seems so timid when put in a context where those things would be seen as massive plusses.
[3]

Tom Ewing: I can't be the only person who checks their watch when someone starts a verse "Reminiscin'", and sure enough Fat Joe brings nothing but his name to this courtly track, playing the hugely unlikely role of J-Beau. Jennifer herself drifts sweetly through matters and as one of her dwindling band of defenders I'm left to clutch at ethereal production straws.
[5]

Mike Atkinson: Any tune which has the discerning good taste to sample Roger “Zapp” Troutman’s sublime composition/production for Shirley Murdoch, the sublime “As We Lay”, gets an automatic bye from me. With both J-Lo and Mariah Carey putting out solid material this year, the old certainties are tumbling around us like fragments of the old Berlin Wall. Oh happy dawn! That we should live to see the day!
[7]

Barima Nyantekyi: I've seen the Latin duosome perform this twice over the weekend, and I read a lot into the way Joe leaves the stage before the end of the song. You'd be better off not knowing what I do read into the end result of this rotten marzipan Beauty and the Beast outtake for the "urban crowd". Just be assured that I don't want to hear it again and that Jenny has lost her edge here, and that 'Get Right' was diet Rich Harrison and she too is to blame.
[2]


Black-Eyed Peas – Don’t Phunk With My Heart
[3.58]


Doug Robertson: In which Fergie who, lest we forget, has the cold dead eyes of a killer, shows a bit of vulnerability by wondering whether the bloke telling her all these sweet nothings actually cares about her or whether he just wants to get into her pants, perhaps reasoning that ‘the love’ could well be found in there. Anyway, the Peas, as they’re almost never called, have found a formula that works and by god they’re sticking to it. Fortunately, as formulas go, it’s pretty good and, while it might not be knocking down the door of groundbreaking music, it is happily slinking its way past the bouncer into the nightclub of danceable tunes, and sometimes that’s all that matters.
[7]

Joe Macare: As if to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there can be music just as bad than that made by English boys with guitars, my least-favourite cluster of wacky fuckwits are here. How can a band combine the two mighty genres of hip hop and pop but render the end result so toothless, sexless, joyless, lifeless? But by the Black Eyed Peas' standards, this is actually okay—which is to say that it is rubbish, but not as tooth-grindingly irritating as, um, all their other songs that aren't 'Where Is The Love?' (which was, again, rubbish, but not as... etc). Still, “phunk”, people, “phunk” - they have used the word “phunk”. That's incredibly hard to forgive.
[1]

Alex MacPherson: The Black Eyed Peas grate on me way beyond the extent to which annoying pop songs normally grate on me. Partly, this is to do with the fact that my irritating flatmate (actress, whiny bitch) in the last year of university had a slight BEP fetish, and used to do 'street' dances in the living room to their songs and scream things like "I'm so hip hop!" Mostly, though, it's because they're so unredeemably wet and weak, as if their sole purpose for existing is to convince people who are scared of hip hop (like my aforementioned ex-flatmate) that they can still be 'street'. Exhibit A: the 'word' 'phunk'. Exhibit B: "I love you more than sex appeal."
[4]

Tom Ewing: As if the old fuck/funk switch wasn't irritating enough, this track features a fake French accent, craz-zay sound effects like Eminem was doing six years ago, the line "I love you more than sex appeal" and the bit where - even typing this makes me shudder - the rapper growls. "Can't return me once you bought it", taunts Mr Pea.
[2]

Mike Barthel: I don't like to be the kind of person that complains about the mix, but the mix is killing this song. The backing sounds great and dynamic and energetic, but the vocals just aren't good enough to justify their position at the front. Either come up with a better hook or let the bassline come through.
[3]

Mike Atkinson: Just as Jamiroquai has achieved massive success by playing jazz-funk to people who don’t like jazz-funk, so the Black Eyed Peas have pulled off the same trick with their all-conquering brand of hollowed out, de-funked, slickly ornamented, stadium-friendly hip-hop lite. It’s difficult to put my finger on what irritates me the most. Maybe it’s the constant boggle-eyed mugging to camera; maybe it’s the gruesomely euphemistic deployment of the word “phunk”; maybe it’s the wholesale desecration of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s 1985 classic “I Wonder If I Take You Home”. All I know for certain is that I am actively looking forward to never having to hear this again.
[2]


Kaiser Chiefs – Everyday I Love You Less And Less
[4.31]


Edward Oculicz: You own a rhyming dictionary - I'm impressed. You've been hyped to the high heavens by the press. Your music's crap and so's the way you dress. Yes, that wasn't very clever, but neither is this song. {2}

Alex MacPherson: I am growing deeply suspicious of awesome electro intros. They fire up the serotonin so effectively, which just makes the disappointment all the more acute when you realise that no, it's not the latest hot electro-house classic, it's just another knees-up-for-England-and-the-past reactionary Britrock horror show. This one's lasts for two bars before it all goes utterly and wholly to shit with the advent of honking vocals, the same riff I swear all these terrible bands pass around among themselves like a horrible chewed-up spliff, and the least rhythmic rhythm section I have ever had the misfortune of hearing in a very long time.
[1]

Doug Robertson: Kaiser Chiefs’ hearts seem to be set on becoming the darlings of Indie discos up and down the land and, while that not be everyone’s cup of tea—and there are still some deluded types who don’t see Ash’s ‘Girl From Mars’ as the classic it undoubtedly is—it will be helping plenty of university types realise that music can be fun, it doesn’t always have to be all miserablism and minor chords, and for that they should be applauded.
[7]

Luke Martin: Remember Dogs Die in Hot Cars? Yeah? This sounds like them. In fact, up until I was given this week’s Jukebox list I believed it was them. I had a couple of brief conversations with baffled friends where I said things like—“Isn’t the new DDIHC single awful?” and “it’s just the same ‘I wish I was witty’ lyrics and ‘aren’t we so quirky and fun?’ chorus.” Now that I know it’s actually by the Kaiser Chiefs I like it even less. Everyday.
[3]

Fergal O’Reilly: The Kaiser Chiefs often seem on the verge of stumbing across something vaguely compelling (eg all that plaintitive wailing in "Modern Way"), but the need to stick in a rubbish shouty chorus to maintain their position in the NME Chart and all that shit hamstrings rather. This seems quite carefully hit-oriented, the synths are quickly shunted aside after the intro and just sort of burble away in the background tastefully enough without becoming prominent enough to offend the tufty-haired Luddrockers that'll be dancing to it in the indie clubs. The bit where they resurface is probably the most interesting, but it still feels a bit half-formed and inept.
[5]

Barima Nyantekyi: It was never love in the first place. Haircut indie garners comparisons to prime Blur how? Blur made pop songs you could believe *in*, efforts that could transcend and outlast the disdain Damon and his views attract to this day. What do the Chiefs have, really? Fallout from Franz's Bizarro World No. 1 popularity, a singer with stupid dumb taste in jeans and the soul of Ocean Colour Scene coursing through their licks. This is half a tune, and I'm not saying that because it lasts about 2 minutes, it's because I've listened to it 3 times and don't remember anything but the chorus, cause it's, y'know, the title. Woo.
[2]


Rob Thomas – Lonely No More
[4.33]


Tom Ewing: This guy was in, what, one of those number bands? Playing sort of bland rock music? But now he's reinvented himself as a really lumbering version of Jordan Knight or JC Chasez. The songwriting is competent and there are tantalising hints of Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy" in the backing vocal but the beat is strictly hippos-only. By rights then I should mark it up but I'm going to be a weight traitor and give it
[5].

Mike Atkinson: American readers might be surprised to learn that, like Modest Mouse and the Dave Matthews Band, Rob Thomas’s Matchbox 20 are virtually unknown in the UK, with the only real recognition factor coming from his collaboration with Carlos Santana on “Smooth”. Nevertheless, there is some serious promotional push behind this, as Thomas is given the full Priority Marketing treatment in a concerted attempt to catapult him into our hearts. I can’t see it happening, though. There hasn’t been much call for this type of amiably blokey sports-bar blues/rock since Men At Work split up and the Knopfler brothers went their separate ways, and while this might pass muster at low volume during Happy Hour at Hooters, I can’t see it making any further inroads than that. I’m going to be proved so wrong, aren’t I?
[4]

Jessica Popper: It looks likely that this will be bigger than any of Matchbox 20's efforts at cracking the UK, which is ironic as it's quite rubbish, although probably no worse than any of the band's singles. I did rather like "Smooth", though.
[4]

Doug Robertson: Given that this is the not only the bloke from Matchbox 20, but also the guy who recorded Smooth with Carlos Santana, this should be one of the most godawful records ever released. As it turns out, it’s just bad, with few redeeming features but at least it doesn’t make you want to track down the people responsible for it and have them killed, which is something of an improvement.
[4]

Mike Barthel: There's opportunism and then there's just good sense, and this song is an example of the latter. Sure, it sounds a lot more like his Santana song than Matchbox 20, which never exactly specialized in Latin rhythms. But the simple fact is, "Smooth" worked, against all odds, and when you determine that despite your pop-rock past you actually sound great singing Tejano, what are you gonna do? Make more good songs like this, one hopes.
[7]

Barima Nyantekyi: You should've covered 'My Band'. It'd have been oddly appropriate, especially as you'd cover the whinge raps more meaningfully and honestly than Proof and the rest. Rememeber Nick Carter's solo career? No? That was still better.
[1]


Hot Hot Heat – Goodnight Goodnight
[5.09]


Jessica Popper: Someone thinks they're the Strokes all of a sudden! Well actually I'm just too ignorant in matters of curly haired American rock boys to know the difference, but even I know that music has moved on and they appear to have been left behind. They need to get themselves some synths, and I mean now, before that trend is over too.
[2]

Mike Barthel: Their songs sneak up on me--there's ample reason to distrust HHH, but 'Bandages' was a flat-out great song. (Say what you will, but the indie songs modern rock radio embraces tend to be genuinely great.) I might be nuts for this in a few weeks, but right now it's merely better than I expected, with a great sing-along chorus whose derivation succumbs to its energy, but not lots else. So, for now:
[5]

Edward Oculicz: A bit ham-fisted in the verses, Hot Hot Heat seem very fond of these funny vocal cadences and sticking words where they don't quite fit, but a great chorus, and there's not much of the verse, so it's easy to forgive. {7}

David Jones: I’m not going to join the backlash and turn on Hot Hot Heat. Yes, once I’ve gotten around to reading Simon Reynolds’s new book I’ll probably appreciate what derivative bullshit this is and despise it but right now I’m happy to settle for one of the few current post-punk/ska/indie/reggae acts who can pen a memorable tune.
[7]

Mike Atkinson: The best defence you can make of Hot Hot Heat’s take on late 1970s skinny-tied power pop revivalism (oh, stifle those yawns) is that, having staked their claim a couple of years ahead of the pack, there is at least some vague sense of entitlement. Godfathers of the genre, or something. So let’s try and be nice. This is cheeky and snappy and snotty and radio-friendly, with a winning melody and a nice organ sound, and it’s all over quite quickly. Let it never be said that the Stylus UK Singles Jukebox hive-mind would ever discriminate against melodic guitar-based pop.
[6]

Joe Macare: On this evidence, the magical fairytale kingdom of One-Hit Wonderland is going to the final resting place of Hot Hot Heat—who, by the way, really ought to be forced by some kind of trading standards authority to change their name to Mildly Lukewarm Warmth.
[4]


Javine – Touch My Fire
[5.18]


Edward Oculicz: "Oh it's not very good, but it's good by Eurovision standards.". Er, no it isn't, because good Eurovision songs can be exciting, catchy and downright bonkers. This isn't. Even in the weakest field in years, this stands out as unremarkable - though it has a good ending that will probably win a few votes in Istanbul. {5}

Alex MacPherson: Oceanic's early 90s rave classic 'Insanity' crossed with Holly Valance's early 00s pop classic 'Kiss Kiss': surely Eurovision glory and subsequent pop stardom await Javine. Look, she's even laid on extra Eastern-signifying strings for you - so many that the effect is akin to eating from those boxes of Turkish delight where the sweets are drenched in powdered sugar. (This is a compliment, by the way.) The title metaphor is a little odd though, no? I don't want to think about the implications of likening one's vagina to fire.
[8]

Jessica Popper: I'm a huge Eurovision fan and this is the best UK entry in years. Even the slightly frightening horse-teeth revealing video can't put me off! I'm so excited about Eurovision and I think we will do fairly well with Javine, although as even a casual fan will know, there is nothing predictable about Eurovision, so we could win by miles or get another nil points and I wouldn't be too shocked. I'd like this to do well in the charts just to give Javine a chance of a full-time return to pop. If Jemini managed no.15 and James Fox no.13, Javine should be top 10 at least!
[9]

Tom Ewing: Each UK Eurovision entry finds new ways to embarrass us. Two years ago there was Gemini, a final throw of the Bucks Fizz dice which won us deserved humiliation. Last year that lad with a guitar confirmed that the Contest hasn't voted rock since the days of the Irish hegemony. And now here's Javine, with an 'Eastern-flavoured' number which is in gross and shameful mimickry of points-grabbing Turkish and Ukranian folksiness. So we're making progress, of a sort: from twenty years out of date, to ten, to two. But somebody needs to tell our Eurovision nabobs that it's OK for Turkey to sound Turkish because, well, THEY ARE IN FACT TURKISH. Mind you, Eurovision being Eurovision, the Turkish entry will most likely feature Morris dancers.
[3]

Mike Atkinson: With the strongest British Eurovision entry since Imaani’s “Where Are You” in 1998, only two obstacles stand in the way of Our Javine (formerly Poor Javine) and total victory in Kiev on Saturday night. Firstly: ancient Eurovision Anorak Lore dictates that no song drawn in second position on the night will ever go on to win the contest. (The “position of doom”, they call it.) Secondly: with at least four (if not five) other entries all rocking the exact same Fusion Of Eastern And Western Influences vibe, there is the distinct danger that Poor Javine (for it is her) may well get buried in the rush. Can only another Nipplegate incident save her now?
[8]

Barima Nyantekyi: So, is this "Poor Javine" or "Javine C***", the hope not only for the UK's Eurovision offensive, but Javine's own saggy career? I'd say it's in-between, "Nominal Javine", and I don't just say that because the best thing she did since Popstars: The Rivals - teaming with Richard X - was undermined by her clearly scrambled-egg management. Thanks to the competition, this has the deliberate Turkish-type vibe that drives half of Europe into an insensible frenzy every May, which makes it the most calculated (or tailor-made) UK Eurovision entry for some time. And I guess I really do find its contrivances strangely endearing, or at least tolerable. At its heart, so to speak, it's the same old Javine problem - who is she, anyway, besides nice pipes and a nipple slip? With Richard X, she's probably the singer from Mantronix, and therefore a mine of potential, retro-relevance and a touch of adventure in these times. With Innocent, she's sub-Jamelia, a Brit Beyonce without the support (watch the multiple Javs in the video; listen to her second single back to back with a certain megahit from 2003). On her own...that could be something people might want to see, but maybe she should drop Mica Paris and the like as icons first.
[5]


New Order feat. Ana Matronic - Jetstream
[5.33]


David Jones: Speaking as somebody who has seriously considered being buried with a Joy Division box set in one armpit and a New Order one in the other, it pains me to be nasty about this. But the evidence for the prosecution is overwhelming—the title is spelt out letter by letter: “J-E-T, J-E-T, You are so good for me”. There is never, ever, an excuse for that. Except perhaps in the case of Ian Brown, who might conceivably have needed to spell out the letters to F.E.A.R. very slowly in order to sing it. It then turns out that the person doing the spelling-out is the ladybore from the Scissor Sisters. Just in case you’ve missed the preceding badness, it ends with a “jetstream” swooshing noise. Honestly. Has any other truly great band released as many truly awful singles as New Order?
[3]

Doug Robertson: Despite the “actually quite good” factor of their last single, ‘Krafty’, New Order have decided on this release to instead take the advice of fellow aged popsters Duran Duran and record the sound of a bunch of old men pissing all over their legacy. Ana Matronic’s contribution sounds tacked on and leads me to believe that they plucked her name out of the NME at random in an attempt to be down with the kids, rather that out of any love for the Scissor Sisters. Still, at least Barney gets to demonstrate that he knows how to spell “Jet”, so a declaration of senility is still a long way off.
[5]

Edward Oculicz: Not as good as it should be. But then again, I thought "Republic" was underrated. Ana Matronic seems rather bereft of personality on this, which must be quite an achievement. {5}

Jessica Popper: I was pleased to see that Ana has the appropriate 'electro' hair in the video for this rather excellent song. I've never been a huge fan of New Order (not that I actively dislike them but they look like they should be friends with my dad so I kind of wrote them off for that reason) but I love the Scissor Sisters very much and Ana is simply the height of fabulousness, so there was never any chance of this song being anything less than fantastic and of course it is. I hope they release ‘Guilt Is A Useless Emotion’ because that is equally poptastic. Now they just need to cut out the sad dad dancing/waddling on stage and they'll be really cool!
[10]

Tom Ewing: Loads of my reviews today have been really lazy and talked about what other bands the single sounds like. Gratifyingly here I have an excuse: this sounds like the exact midpoint between New Order and the Scissor Sisters, two outfits whose appeal to me is definite but hard to put into words. The chorus could form a medical definition of faux-naif but I'm charmed anyway. Is this how Tears fans feel? Horrid thought.
[7]

Mike Atkinson: Did you ever invent imaginary groups when you were little? ‘Cos I had loads—including The Poppy Band, and their debut hit “Nefertiti (So Good To Me)”. Quite how New Order have managed to rip off the chorus of this song so thoroughly, I will never know—but rip it off they have, the evil telepathic memory-sucking bastards. Tempo, melody, rhyming structure, everything. Compare and contrast the following, if you will. Female backing vocals are in brackets.

The Poppy Band: “Nefertiti (Nefertiti), so good to me (so good to me).”
New Order: “J.E.T. (J.E.T.), you are so good for me (you are so good for me).”


Spooked? Too bloody right I’m spooked. I reckon it’s all that Ms. Matronic’s doing. I met her just before the Scissor Sisters became famous, and she seemed so nice. Little did I know that she was illegally downloading from my subsconscious into hers, even as I was complementing her on her band’s demo MP3s. Guess it cuts both ways, then.
[7]


Sleater-Kinney - Entertain
[5.75]


David Jones: Impassioned, unfettered post-grunge featuring meandering licks and liberal amounts of feedback. On paper I should love ‘em but S.K. have always left me slightly cold, for some reason. Suggestions for getting my head around them to the comments section, please.
[6]

Joe Macare: Musically, 'Entertain' suggests that Sleater-Kinney are back to their hot rocking best. Unfortunately it's slightly marred by lyrics about how Sleater-Kinney aren't here to entertain you, they're here to teach you about how reality tv is bad for your health, or something. This is exactly the kind of cringe-inducing didacticism that gets left-wing feminist spitfires a bad name... Although it's miles better than almost everything else out this week. Sorry, Sleater-Kinney, but I'm afraid you do entertain me.
[8]

Fergal O’Reilly: This has a marvelously taut, yelpy energy and really makes all the Brit Indie Chancer stuff we constantly wade through on here look like lumpen, unimaginative tat. Even some of the stuff that's not actually that bad. It's just so much more dynamic and energetic and y'know, vital, especially at the points where the vocal devolves into Life Without Buildings-like spastic gibbering.
[8]

Alex MacPherson: Corin Tucker has such righteous fury in her foghorn voice. So much that when I hear this blistering anti-mediocrity manifesto, all I want to do - after jump around the room screaming along - is let her loose on bands like Oasis, the Black Eyed Peas and the Kaiser Chiefs, and watch gleefully as she tears their heads off. I sense a video game idea in this: she would take no prisoners whatsoever.
[9]

Mike Barthel: It's like feeding someone allergic to peanuts a Snickers bar, really. We might all be able to agree that it's objectively good, but the dude with the closed-off throat just isn't going to enjoy it. And as long as that accursed yowl remains in Sleater-Kinney songs, I'm not going to like them either.
[2]

Jessica Popper: I am a fan of some angry-girl rock but this doesn't hold much appeal for me. It's just too shouty, and now I sound like my grandparents (although my grandma recently decided she loves the Happy Mondays so I wouldn't like to think where that leaves me...)
[3]


Mylo – In My Arms
[5.83]


Joe Macare: Like an endless make-out session with an attractive but chaste born-again Christian: nice enough, but it never really gets going where you want it to go, and it can only end in disappointment.
[5]

Mike Barthel: I was listening to Willie Nelson this morning and was struck by the total lack of intros in his songs. Maybe there'll be half a bar of guitar, but then blam, right into the vocals. In contrast, this song--a very good song, mind you--is all intro. Now, you can make certain arguments for this, like how pop's progressed to the point where a whole song of intro is actually a great idea, because the things we can do with intros sound so great that you might as well stretch them out into a track. On the other hand, it does make me wish this was shorter. Oh well.
[7]

Luke Martin: I tend not to admit it in public, but the Sunset Strippers song was fantastic. The hook was so delightful I deliberately stopped playing it in the hope that when I did hear it in a club, coupled with the intensity and, dare I say it, the passion on the dance floor, the soul-flipping blow would not only hit me but also be magnified to such an extent that it would become almost life affirming. So why then, please, tell me why, has Mylo pillaged this hook, punched it in the midriff, robbed it of all emotion and mass produced it across a sickeningly pedestrian synth backdrop, destroying everything that was so special about it? I’m loath to give a song zero but this, this is deserving of my scorn.
[0]

Barima Nyantekyi: Like most of his stuff, it's alright. It's all so placid and lulling, it sounds like an almost cert for the second-to-last fumble anthem at a school disco. Maybe it's time for the vocal collabs. Did you hear his remake of Amy Winehouse's "Pumps"? Didn't it sound like the Neneh Cherry M.I.A. really wants to be? And how it blows most other raver's dreampop to small particles of soap residue? Neither fire nor dire, but I am going on record as of now to state that he should cede his Random Dance Album That Everyone Will Buy This Year title to both Cut Copy, his recent tour support, and Cagedbaby, who certainly, if nothing else, make better electronic pop songs.
[5]

Jessica Popper: I only recently realised that the music of this song was an 80s sample as well as the vocals and it turns out the song that part is sampled from ('Bette Davis Eyes' by Kim Carnes) is even better than the original 'Waiting For A Star To Fall', which has been pretty much ruined by the recent tacky cover versions. This is a much classier affair although the video is one of those annoying ones that makes out summer holidays to be so much more sophisticated than they ever really are. Annoying younger siblings and ice-cream stealing seagulls would be far more realistic, at least in my experience.
[7]

Mike Atkinson: On my way back from lunch not long ago, this popped up on my iPod just as I was crossing the big public square in the middle of the city. The sun was out, the people looked happy, and all felt right with the world. As my steps fell into synch with the track, so my eyes started jump-cutting between buildings and passers-by, doing one of those little personalised location shoots that you sometimes do when you’re out on your own. Then, as the familiar Kim Carnes sample kicked in, and fresh memories of the heart-warming boy-meets-girl Groundhog Day video started to superimpose themselves over my own visuals, a surging feeling of all-consuming bliss welled up inside me, sending cold shivers to my spine and hot tears to my eyes. Mugged by the unexpected, I allowed myself a broad, beaming smile and kept on walking up the pedestrianised alleyway back to the office, silently ecstatic, as both my inner and outer realities fused into one moment of luminous transcendence. So, ten points then. Bland my arse.
[10]


Stevie Wonder feat. En Vogue & Prince – So What The Fuss
[6.25]


Alex MacPherson: Look, Black Eyed Peas, this is how you do funk! This is also how you do nearly-but-not-quite-swearing: with aplomb, vast amounts of charisma, and exquisitely-timed tilts of the hat. Other things which help: bass which splashes and squelches and gets your feet dirty, a beat so tight it could make a ward full of hip surgery patients start to shake their asses, and flouncing diva backing vocalists who just happen to be the most important R&B act of the early 90s.
[9]

Doug Robertson: After having reached the lowest point in his career—releasing a single with Blue—Stevie has clearly decided to get his life back on track and, with the constant references to shame throughout the lyrics, that time was obviously a major influence on this song. It’s good stuff though, certainly the best thing he’s done in years and shows that, despite having a career going back to the sixties, he can still sound relevant, fresh, interesting and inspiring when he wants to be.
[7]

Tom Ewing: I doubt there are many people who have much invested in Stevie Wonder being good in 2005, and I also doubt Stevie Wonder is one of them. Legacy assured; back catalogue shifting; pressure off. This is no disgrace, in fact it's almost very fine though the bowelicious synths and Stevie's unseemly gusto when he yells "So what the FUSS" spoil things a little. Stevie, it's fine, people say that word in pop now.
[6]

Mike Atkinson: A return to form in so many ways, as Stevie evokes the glories of his mid-1970s peak with a satisfyingly taut, gritty funk workout. With guests including a reunited En Vogue doo-doo-doo-ing away in the background, and no less a figure than Prince on guitar, contributing what can only be described as (forgive me) Tasty Licks, everything about this spells Major Artistic Comeback—and not before time, either. Unfortunately, this largely successful referencing of Wonder’s “message” era does not extend to the finger-wagging lyrics, which take preachy pot-shots at a fairly random shopping list of targets, linked only by the phrase “shame on you”. Without any kind of unifying principle to link these complaints together, the effect encroaches dangerously upon Grumpy Old Men territory. Musically hot but lyrically not, this is still Wonder’s best work in many years.
[7]

Barima Nyantekyi: It's no George Clinton. It's not even 'She Got Me' by JC Chasez. It's what Jazz FM have been sacrificing virgins for to drive up their daytime listening share. And with all the targets that it's straining to hit, it's not getting much out of my keyboard today. Oh, and how "edgy" is that reading of "FUSS!" Watch out, Mary Whitehouse. This is not gonna turn me into any more of a casual fan of Uncle Stevie, and if the fake tooth set are going for Basement Jaxx's 'Oh My Gosh' these days, the fan base may not stomp out in force for this one. And Prince's grandfather phase is worse than Cornelius'. Bring back the raw funk, o say you will?
[5]

Mike Barthel: Like the last thirty years of black music all playing at the same time. Hinted at with the subtle female R&B vocal comeup in the intro, suggested by the fact that the synths in the verse remind you of Dr. Dre as much as anything else, slyly insinuated by Prince's dead-on guitar part, shoving its way to the front with Stevie's shouting before the second chorus, then all coming together at the end of that chorus as they all yell "SO WHAT'S THE FUSS" with the En Vogue part popping out of your speakers, loud as life, and there are goddamn car horns. I'm as against nostalgia passes as anyone else, but that this is getting massive play on urban stations right now is no accident--it's pretty close to a perfect song. Like Jam & Lewis producing Destiny's Child and Snoop post-vocal lessons, without any of the technological barriers of the past, it makes me want to dance and barbeque and form protest marches all at the same time.
[10]


Trick Daddy feat. Ludacris - Sugar
[6.27]


Doug Robertson: Like 50 Cent’s ‘Candy Shop’ (and about a million other songs) this uses sugary stuff as an entirely unsubtle reference to sex. Unlike ‘Candy Shop, however, this is actually pretty good. OK, the lyrics are crap, but musically it’s got an upbeat summery groove on combined with a nice acoustic strum that makes you forget the unquestionable awfulness of the words.
[7]

Mike Atkinson: So many singles to review, but they could safely have omitted this witless slop, though. After all, “Candy Shop” is still in the charts, and the Black Eyed Peas are already on this week’s list. Stick the knickers-knackers-knockers slobbering of the former over the fake jollity of the latter, and you’re pretty much all the way there. Gerroff! Rubbish!
[2]

Edward Oculicz: Luda's spot on this is pretty great, actually. Unfortunately, this metaphor about a woman's bits on his tongue is slightly less fully-formed than the average 50 Cent construction. {4}

Joe Macare: Trick Daddy remembers that a lot of people really liked a cool breeze of a song he did called 'Dro In The Wind', and so he's decided to make another one that sounds extremely similar. Hey, I'm not complaining, especially when Ludacris is on hand to add his charismatic brand of raunch, and confirm once again that he always saves his best rhymes for his guest appearances on other people's records. Not that Trick Daddy is slacking when it comes to lyrical sauce: “The best dreams are the wet dreams, and everything else is like a movie without a sex scene” qualifies as one of the best couplets I've heard all year.
[8]

Tom Ewing: That rare thing, a porn-hop track which makes you think about sex with someone you actually, well, like. As funny as it is overheated, a peach of a chorus and at least a dozen gorgeous little noises and microhooks in the background. This week's best by a mile.
[10]

Alex MacPherson: Hang on one tiny second, this song is about to be released yet I have not heard one single person in the whole of the UK rave about it to me yet? This country needs to step its game up for real, because this is the secret 'Signs': better, even, because it's more of an aphrodisiac. Cee-Lo's harmonies in the chorus are as sumptuous as the food metaphors layered throughout the song: sweet and thick like maple syrup drizzled over homemade pancakes (the amazing "skeet skeet!" is clearly the final squeeze of that bottle); Luda once again proves categorically that he is a million miles above his own league when he does guest spots, especially when he delivers lines like "goodie goodie gumdrop, put me in a tongue lock" with his perfected brand of gentlemanly lasciviousness; Trick Daddy does his bit for the health of America's children by ensuring that virtually every food item he namechecks is a fruit, with Vitamin C and other such nutrients.
[10]


Eels – Hey Man Now You’re Really Living
[6.60]


Edward Oculicz: It's just like 1997! Optimism is king! The Eels are good again! {8}

Jessica Popper: Ooh, I didn't know the Eels were fun! What a nice surprise. This reminds me of a lot of songs but I annoyingly can't name one of them. It's really catchy, though, with loads of hand-clapping and silly shout-out bits - definitely worth seeking out if you haven't heard it.
[8]

David Jones: I realise everyone else is going to be nasty about this one—after all, it has the kind of melody normally used by youths sat in circles in the name of either Jesus or scouting. But I’m still a sucker for the Eels’ chipper tune-miserable lyrics dichotomy, even if this is far from vintage E.
[7]

Tom Ewing: In the controversial new Dr Who story "Dalek", the last of the alien murder machines finds himself infected by human DNA and flooded with feelings. Bred to know only hate, the Dalek must come to terms with love, sorrow, happiness, the feel of sunlight - with the messy business of living. The mutated monster delivers his verdict on these new emotions, moments before he kills himself. "This is not life - this is sickness." Suddenly, I know exactly how the poor fucker feels.
[0]

Mike Barthel: The Eels were always one of those bands I just didn't get the mythos of--uh, OK, E is very dour, but that's not really the point, is it? The point here is that this would sound much better sung by a tenor and without the pseudo-Beck guitar solo. Which is to say, it would sound better sung by the Dead Milkmen, in which case it'd get like a 15, but as is:
[7]

Barima Nyantekyi: E, I really missed you. You just saved the week in STYLE. Ladies and gentleman, when the Eels are on, they are REALLY GODDAMN ON. E has literally gone through hell to sound this good, as well as this exuberant, melodious and affirmative. First thought is that he took the best parts of Blondie's 'Maria' and Beck's 'Summer Girl' and took them back to the sources of surf rock and r'n'b. My life is a black 80s (post) teen comedy trilogy and I have no idea which part this is soundtracking, but it is definitely gonna involve a woman and some daft dancing. Maybe it's the credits of the second film, almost certainly depicting the end of my early-to-mid life crisis. Because this is salvation.
[9]


Antony & The Johnsons – Hope There’s Someone
[7.17]


Doug Robertson: This reminds me so much of another song, but for the life of me I can’t think of what it is. This means that either a) The song I’m thinking of doesn’t actually exist, and this song is so perfectly written that it instantly sounds like something you’ve heard before, drawing on a diverse set of influences to create something beautifully unique, yet comfortingly familiar at the same time in a way which really doesn’t happen enough in modern music or b) I have a rubbish memory. It’s probably the latter, but for now I’ll give it both the benefit of the doubt and an…
[8]

Alex MacPherson: This is a wonderfully crafted song with a beautiful melody; the way the piano line metamorphoses from gentle melancholia to pounding fury (and in such a restrained fashion, too) reaffirms my belief that Tori Amos was one of the most important artists of the 90s; the lavish climax is divine, and I'm not sure whether I mean that it feels like receiving blessings or bukkake. Possibly both. Anyway. It's got all that going for it, and I would totally understand anyone who fell to their knees to worship Antony as a genius, but I cannot listen to this again because I don't like his voice. It's a pretty fundamental barrier. Too. Much. Tremolo.
[6]

Mike Atkinson: A brave but bewildering choice of single from the I Am A Bird Now album, as it would have made more commercial sense to have gone with the deep Southern soul of “Fistful Of Love”, rather than this challenging performance piece for solo piano and voice. Starting out as a tenderly yearning, relatively conventional bedtime prayer, this departs from any recognisable song structure about halfway through, as Antony pounds out repeated and intensifying block chords on the piano, while ghostly layers of echoed vocals emerge in the background. The effect is unsettling, and will irritate as least as many as it enchants. The same applies for Antony’s unmistakable alto warble, which evokes comparisons with both Nina Simone and early 1970s Bryan Ferry, whilst simultaneously sounding like no other singer on this earth. There’s no doubt that you have to cross a line with this music—but it’s a line which should be crossed.
[8]

Joe Macare: I'm honestly not sure what to make of Anthony—in some ways he seems too perfect for the Sunday supplements of broadsheet newspapers, with his smoky jazz voice and his tasteful melancholy piano arrangements and the way that 'Hope There's Someone' starts off possessing a decent tune which is abandoned at various points for some muso-pleasing formless warbling. But to have that question hanging in my head—is this brilliant or is it nonsense? - is at least diverting in a way that, say, Oasis will never be.
[7]

Mike Barthel: When I hear an artist described as 'theatrical' I think: OK, either they mean like the Decemberists, in which case I am not interested, or they mean like Pulp, in which case I am very interested. Antony takes kind of a middle path, which isn't as bad as it could be, but not as good, either. Please get Babydaddy in as producer and make it better, because a pretty li'l voice like that shouldn't be wasted. Or, you know, write better ballads!
[4]

Tom Ewing: This is the first Antony and the Johnsons track I've heard and I'm genuinely, delightfully impressed. The initial play I was plate-spinning, trying to keep a half-dozen art-pop reference points up in the air. Cale, Eno, surely not Waits, whoops, there goes Charlemagne Palestine... subsequent plays, and there will be many, will find these names receding and me coming to terms with the song's individual beauty. The start of something.
[9]


By: UK Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-05-17
Comments (4)
 

 
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