The Singles Jukebox
Suffocating Horses



week seven, and finally it’s our first non-American or British winner! You’ll have to wait to see who it is, but it must be good, given that it was up against competition of the stiffness of the Pussycat Dolls and will.i.am hilariously not swearing, Brad Paisley imagining heaven, Pink fearlessly declaring “PARIS HILTON = BIT THICK, INNIT”, and, um, Panic! At The Disco. Also: Teddybears STHLM get their side-project on, some Finnish people in “goth” shocker, and it’s a big hello to the Lithuanian charts. Before that, though, we have to begin the article, and if we have to begin the article, that can only mean one thing. HELLO, “HOT NEW BRITISH GUITAR BAND”…


The Feeling - Sewn
[3.67]


Hillary Brown: Why the hate? It’s all full of pianos and McCartney-esque musings on singing and lyrics and swoony backing vocals. I like that stuff, I do, but every once in a while it hits me all icky and “I hate my parents.” Some kind of post-teen rebellion rising up inside like acid reflux. Progress, you bastard!
[3]

Martin Skidmore: I was totally sick of this kind of music years ago, but we seem to be getting more and more of it now - sensitive white boys with acoustic guitars and pianos and the like. This is a group, but it's no different from the Blunt/Powter drivel. It does make the odd unconvincing gesture towards soft rock, and to be fair it does have pretty nice singing, which is different from most of its school and why it gets more than 1 out of 10. It still makes me want to punch the dreary fuckers.
[2]

Ian Mathers: You're not getting off on the right foot when you're telling “Danny Boy” to “shake that ass”. And you're not improving when your chorus makes me marvel more at the awkwardness of your lyrics (“you stop the blood and make my head soft”?) than the actual music. The kind of thing that makes newspaper journalists start blathering on about “good old-fashioned songs”, which should be ample warning to avoid this post-Keane tripe.
[3]

Mike Powell: The only thing worse than making softball sub-Coldplay rock is pretending you are expressing anything beyond a desire for a brighter bank statement whilst doing it.
[1]

Doug Robertson: One of them is married to Sophie Ellis-Bextor, y’know, which is probably the only interesting thing that can be found to say about them. Even their name shows a distinct lack of imagination, while musically this is the sort of Vauxhall Conference indie that clogs up the lower reaches of the chart and is generally bought by people who find Embrace a bit too racey for their liking. They’ll probably plod on like this for a few years, never really being anyone’s favourite band but just about managing to hold the audience’s attention while they support other mid-range bands up and down the country until their brains eventually give up trying to come up with something worthwhile and just shut down completely. They are better than Kubb though, which is something at least.
[5]


Pussycat Dolls ft. Will.I.Am - Beep
[3.82]


John Cameron: The Pussycat Dolls, not content with haunting my television with their spectral, ghastly, sticklike forms, decide to haunt my nightmares by making certain their newest single is peppered with terrifying harpy-laughter, stupid and obnoxious "beep" noises, and the increasingly-useless will.i.am.
[0]

Martin Skidmore: Listening to the album, it's clear that the band can do a polished and sexy job of any material you hand them. They found one great song to cover and it's made them stars, but frankly they have nothing else within a million miles of it. This has the gimmick of replacing dirty words with a beep, which we're used enough to in radio mixes of rap anyway, but here it's turned into a deliberate Two Ronnies double entendre device, but without rhymes to nudge you towards particular words, so it kind of lies there limply and hopes you'll do some work to make it into sexy fun. It also has the most awkward fake laughing I've ever heard.
[5]

Steve Mannion: Annoying, charmless, formulaic toss that feels utterly irrelevant and inferior next to a track like “Goodies”. As a comment on sexual attitudes, politics etc. it might work, if it was all done with more imagination, conviction and a will to really entertain.
[1]

Edward Oculicz: Funky beat with great strings spoiled by pointless Beyonce-isms, except only one of the PCD can actually song, and the "beep" effect is such a lame gimmick even the Black Eyed Peas would have thought it was too annoying. It says something about the Dolls' actual charisma that they've yet to carry a chorus by themselves. That is, if the bit with the beeps is the chorus, it almost sounds like two different bits repeated over and over again without ever sticking in the head.
[2]

Mike Powell: Do you remember having your hearing tested at the doctor’s office, like when they play you a series of tones and you’re supposed to raise your hand when you hear them? Like that, this song is comfy and continually reminds you of its presence, but doesn’t really explode on the fun-factor. Good to see that conceptual novelty songs still exist.
[6]


Panic! At The Disco – I Write Sins Not Tragedies
[4.20]


Hillary Brown: Vibrato plus disco comes a hair from creating weapon of mass destruction. Cool it, kiddo. You sound tense.
[4]

Peter Parrish: The storytelling approach to songwriting is an ancient and noble art. It can work superbly if you’re, oh, I don’t know, Bob Dylan, or something. Unfortunately, if you’re a witless boob you’ll just end up trying to force words where they don’t belong, brutally subjugating syllables to your evil whim and employing painfully poor lyrics to fit your narrative. Which was, sadly, already rubbish to begin with. Boy meets girl, boy plans to marry girl, girl is caught with some other guy at the wedding. Loud-ish guitars periodically interject to little or no effect.
[1]

Jonathan Bradley: One of the best emo tricks is taking a not particularly poetic turn of phrase, loading it with as much drama as possible and then running it in into the ground. Taking Back Sunday, for instance are masters at this; witness their building of entire tracks on lines like “Tell all your friends you’ve got your gun to my head” or “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”. Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie tries to do the same with the line “Haven’t you people ever heard of closing a goddamn door?” and his performance is almost good enough to overcome the consummate silliness of the phrase. Luckily, he’s got backup in the form of baroque keyboard-driven verses and a turgid story about drama before a wedding — a good dose of soap opera never hurt emo.
[8]

Mike Powell: Go back to the fiction you ashamedly scrawled in an old composition notebook and you’re likely to find one lyric from this song, but I hope to hell that for the sake of your soul it’s not “it’s much better to face these kinds of things with a sense of poisoned rationality” – an ambition solely reserved for 16 to 19-year-old boys who are likely not as intelligent and sensitive as they’d privately suspect their friends think they are. When substantiated with faceless pop-punk noir, aforementioned thought becomes a deep irony seemingly only available to our ears. I happily imagine that most of these guys’ efforts are actually dedicated to making sure the “!” in their name is properly placed and printed on flyers.
[2]

Edward Oculicz: Lots of nice touches; the long drum build-up to the second chorus, the way it teases you into thinking a final chorus is coming before ending suddenly, the utterly toothless way the singer intones "god-damn". A million skinny, ineffectual virgins are identifying painfully while wishing their hair were longer so they could wave it about dramatically to this.
[8]


Lovex – Guardian Angel
[4.22]


John Cameron: Shit, guys, Sigma's back! Someone get Dr. Cain to alert Mega Man X, he has to defeat the eight Lovex Bots to get to H.I.M. Fortress! I hope he remembers his Dash Boots!
[2]

Jonathan Bradley: There were hints of emo the first time I heard this, which could have excused the lame-ass metal, but subsequent listens proved I was just engaging in wishful thinking. What I don’t understand, though, is why bands like Lovex feel the need to water down the metal. I’m not a big fan of the genre, but surely neutered singing and politely processed guitars are antithetical to the general goal of being as noisy and abrasive as possible? Even Metallica doesn’t come off this weak.
[2]

Hillary Brown: As long as the guy’s not actually singing, it’s totally bearable, being all riffy high guitars (if a bit lacking on the low end), but when actual vocals replace guitars, you’d like to tell him he really should make that appointment with the ear-nose-and-throat doctor. Seriously, dude. It sounds painful.
[4]

Ian Mathers: I actually got quite a nasty shock when I went to Lovex's site – they look like the horrible bastard child of modern emo and Guns'n'Roses. Thankfully their song is instead shiny, furiously riffing Eurometal, which is an entirely more palatable prospect. If only “heavy” American music that reached the charts was this unselfconsciously rocking. The chorus of “Guardian Angel” goes full-throttle in a way Cold or Disturbed or whoever would never dare for fear of seeming silly, and the result totally justifies the rest of the song.
[7]

Peter Parrish: I undertook an intrepid IRC journey in an attempt to learn more about Lovex. Names have been changed to protect the Finnish:


{Me} Finland, I need your help - say interesting things about the band Lovex please.
{Captain Finland} Their name sounds like a panty fabric?
{Captain Finland} I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the Finnish pop charts
{Me} This is more RAWK! really. It's sort of Nightwish without the opera angle.
{Finland, My Finland} hello internet
{Me} Finland, My Finland! Say interesting things about "Guardian Angel" by Lovex!
{Finland, My Finland} never heard of them
{Me} No-one in Finland has heard of the Finnish band Lovex :(
{Captain Finland} I ought to point out though that we're hardly a representative sample set of Finland's popular music fans, as none of us are 15-year-old girls with too much makeup on.
[5]


Brad Paisley ft. Dolly Parton – When I Get Where I’m Going
[4.44]


Ian Mathers: This one gets a couple of points for the nicely placid intro, possible Aslan reference and the vocal interplay between Parton and Paisley, which works well. Unfortunately, it had already lost several dozen points for being more maudlin than a very maudlin thing from Maudsylvania.
[2]

Peter Parrish: Fixing you with a rictus grin of delight and eternal damnation, Brad Paisley is here to explain how completely awful life on earth is and how much better you’d feel in heaven with all the smug people. All of this without changing his expression of glazed bliss! Obviously this is already a depressing enough conceit, but let’s also add a hip-vicar-at-a-Church-group guitar twang and so much sugary material that the lyrics sheet is now the primary cause of diabetes amongst the terminally pompous.
[2]

Mike Powell: I begrudge blatantly Christian rhetoric to contemporary country like I begrudge “bitch” to hip hop; you’ve just got to make concessions. So while some part of me is embarrassed to be touched by Paisley’s postmortem laundry list, I also like to think I know lameness when I see it. I understand Paisley when he talks about using the afterlife to pet lions and ride raindrops (yes, dude: yes) but when he starts talking about catching up with his dead grandad, I feel like he’s just trying to get up my ass – vulnerable, yeah, but only ambiguously pleasurable.
[4]

Martin Skidmore: I totally love Dolly Parton - I think she has one of the half dozen most beautiful voices in the history of music. Brad's fine too, smooth and relaxed and likeable, but clearly no comparison, so I'm amazed Dolly doesn't get even a verse to herself; worse, this is a very similar song to 'Walk Around Heaven All Day', which by The Caravans is my favourite gospel number ever, and this lacks a lot of the emotional and ideological force of that song. When I can get past the wrong lead singer/wrong song problem, this is pretty good, except for someone whose playing wants to do lighters-in-the-air stadium rock. Needs lots more Dolly to score high.
[6]

Edward Oculicz: I love Dolly Parton's voice so much that I'm inclined to give almost anything she does a free pass. In her hands, what is saccharine somehow grows wings and works. When you can't hear her, this is a wistful but pretty insubstantial wisp of glossy pop-country. The musical equivalent of a hug from someone who wears a bit too much perfume, leaving you a bit dazed afterwards.
[6]


Orson – No Tomorrow
[4.44]


Ian Mathers: “Tomorrow there's no school, so let's go drink some more Red Bull”? This is what British rock has come to? Half-assed schoolboy hedonism with an extra order of shitty, predictable, post-Artic Monkeys music? Come back Kaiser Chiefs, all is forgiven.
[3]

Steve Mannion: Horrible horrible 80s prom-rock which occasionally verges on both Killers bombast (minus the whirling synths and Brandon’s blare) and… Boston, but never getting close enough for redemption. Consolation points for not being Bowling For Soup.
[2]

Doug Robertson: Oh great. Just what the world was waiting for. Someone who’s heard both Electric Six and Maroon 5 and thought “Brilliant! Combining those two sounds won’t sound like a horribly dated mess in any way whatsoever. What a good idea!”. Of course, had he added in Scott 4, The Dirty 3, The Other Two and A1 into the mix the whole thing might have been a goer, but instead it’s like listening to the sound of someone scraping out your lungs and all told really is a rather unpleasant experience, which does at least mean they’ve got the Maroon 5 side of their sound down pat.
[4]

Edward Oculicz: Jerky riffs! They probably have fashionable hair, too. And yet, what's this? A tune! I mean, it's not a great one, but there's one there. The chorus seems to have taken its inspiration from The Cars, although the verses give off a distinct sense of clever-clever rather than actual thrills and fun which indicates that their hearts are in the right place, and there might be a great song in their future if their heads catch up.
[7]

Mike Powell: Comparing “indie rock” bands to stadium slugs like the Rolling Stones always seems forced, like you actually ought to boast about how you too have a penis and would occasionally like to wag it around whilst inebriated. The best thing I can say about “No Tomorrow” is that it locates the exact geographic center between The Darkness and Spoon, puts on a suede jacket and some cologne, pays too much for a cab to get there, and listens to “Living on a Prayer” on its iPod the entire time.
[4]


Bubba Sparxxx ft. The Ying-Yang Twins & Mr Collipark – Ms. New Booty
[4.44]


John Cameron: There's one thing to be said for Bubba: despite his Luda-aping, shouts of "boody", and ill-considered YYT guest spots, he has his particular brand of beat-making down to an art. A crappy art.
[3]

Ian Mathers: An enthusiastically dumb chorus (the evident relish in the “I FOUND you” part is kind of fun) is fatally undercut by a) the same damn drum machine Collipark always uses; b) even stupider lyrics than you'd expect (and this song is a good example of the crucial difference between dumb and stupid); and c) way too much repetition. If it was about two minutes shorter, it might get away with a) and b).
[4]

Mike Powell: Bubba Sparxxx uses the words “admirably” and “enthusiastically” seconds before shouting “BOOTYBOOTYBOOTYBOOTY ROCKIN’ EVERYWHERE.” I have no sympathy for a man too engrossed in a game of Minesweeper to leave a burning office building, y’know? The siren synth playing octaves is actually the song’s heart monitor, i.e. nearly dead.
[3]

Martin Skidmore: As interesting lyrically as you generally find in any song with 'booty' in the title ("Booty booty booty booty" is a fairly representative lyrical snippet), and it's a bit generic in its Dirty South sounds - this isn't Timbaland producing, surely? I've been a big fan of Bubba's first two albums, but this seems entirely routine and unchallenging, and no more fun than hundreds of similar records.
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: Mr. Collipark, despite his production skill, seems intent on ensuring that no rational listener wants to hear anything from him ever again. Bubba Sparxxx, despite his consummate rapping skill, seems intent on selling big by jumping on the Ying Yang bandwagon. Similar to the Pitbull track that came up on the Jukebox a few weeks ago, “Ms. New Booty” uses Collipark’s older, more successful beats to create a dirty south Frankenstein’s monster. Perhaps this is an allusion to the source of Ms. New Booty’s new booty, and is a glimpse into horrendous god-playing in the woods of Georgia: Plastic Surgery + Cadavers = ghetto-tastic! Also comes with free siren.
[4]


Jim Noir – In The Key Of C
[4.50]


Martin Skidmore: Fuck me this is horrible. How do people with so little ability to carry a tune end up making records? Some googling turned up someone calling him "the new Brian Wilson" which made me want to hire assassins for the reviewer as well as Noir, but you sort of see what he's on about - if you took away all of Brian's talent and voice, and gave him a bunch of instruments and told him to try to make a new Pet Sounds, maybe he'd make this. If you took away all his intelligence too, maybe he'd let other people hear it. Reminds me more of Greg Lake's horrible old Xmas record.
[0]

Jonathan Bradley: This sounds very Beatle-esque, by which I mean horrible, because I despise the Beatles. Noir’s gratingly conventional melody rubs up against trite lyrics to result in a very convincing facsimile of the songs Lennon-McCartney knew were too stupid to be sung by anyone but Ringo. The decent thing would be to not bother releasing these sorts of tracks, but just as the Fab Four shat “Octopus’ Garden” into the world, so too does Jim Noir launch his crapulence upon us.
[2]

Ian Mathers: Much like The Research, Jim Noir is one of those acts that if you describe them to me I find intolerable but in practice am instantly charmed. Bedroom, slightly twee multi-tracked but unassuming pop with slightly daft lyrics – this could go so wrong in so many ways that a good deal of its charm is that it never does. Short and very sweet.
[8]

John Cameron: The problem is, Noir doesn't get what the Flaming Lips do: psychedelia springs from great songwriting, it doesn't define it. Airy guitars, harmonies, processed beats, and warbly sounds do not genius make.
[2]

Steve Mannion: Noir’s a likeable egg whose simplistic melodies and vocal hooks stride a pleasant line, if falling short of the sublime. A bracing park stroll of a track, with plucky Jim seemingly pre-occupied with the notion of a song about itself. But scanning between the lines of this meta-tastic exercise there’s a sense of the longing for a return to the beginning of a love affair that may have ran it’s course. Or perhaps that’s over-complicating it.
[7]


P!nk – Stupid Girls
[4.90]


Peter Parrish: Annoyingly insincere gender politics rant. Women--be yourselves! The styled and stage-managed pop star demands it!
[3]

Hillary Brown: Lessened sans amusing video, but still, the chunka-chunk guitar and the hook attack the ear straight on. Is this as catchy as many a number by the “stupid girls” Pink has issues with? Damn it. It totally is. Even with vomit noises in the middle of it.
[6]

Ian Mathers: I've always liked Pink but never been a huge fan of her music; this, though is fantastic – great chorus, great video (yeah, I want her “DIE HIPSTER SCUM” shirt, but it's still a great video), great if a bit heavy-handed message (hopefully not to be neutered by Pink appearing in Maxim or something) and most of all a song that's catchy and compelling all the way through. In an age where it seems like half of the singles I really like are about treating women like shit, this is even greater by comparison, right down to the funny/disturbing spoken bit in the middle. In a just world, it will top the charts.
[8]

Edward Oculicz: Pink's railing is loud and brash but ultimately insubstantial stuff, certainly as far as feminine empowerment goes, her own "There You Go" and "Most Girls" had more lyrical bite and musical weight to them. As an excuse for sight-gag roffles in the video, I can't help but approve, but taken out of that particular contex, it's like being lectured by a sanctimonious older sibling exhorting you to do as she says, not what she does.
[6]

Jonathan Bradley: With all the inimitable redundancy of a VH1 special, and none of the wit, Pink launches an assault on Paris Hilton. How daring of her! Pink’s protestations that she isn’t really a pop star like the other — gasp! — manufactured acts out there have always rung hollow, particularly considering that the Britneys and Christinas, and now Beyoncés, that she wants to distance herself from have consistently been making better music than her. And now that, in her absence, the Avril Lavignes and Kelly Clarksons have usurped her pop-not-pop niche and brought to it a talent Pink never possessed, the rebel shtick has become particularly grating. But if Pink’s rockism is bad, her feminism is utterly moronic; “Whatever happened to the dreams of a girl president?” Well, Pink, if you bothered to pick up a newspaper, you might notice the fevered speculation of a Hillary v Condi race in ’08. But, no, Pink’s feminism doesn’t extend beyond the pages of Us Weekly.
[0]

Martin Skidmore: I remember being nearly as excited by Pink as by Kelis when I first heard them. That seems absurd now, after Pink's slow but unusually consistent decline since. I still rather like her voice, but this is a bit of a mess - the disconnect between one part and another goes as far as the last word in every chorus line sounding like it's been clumsily bolted on from another tune. It's a very sneery lyric too, lacking in comprehension of a whole range of things - I easily forgive pop songs for not being intelligently nuanced essays when they sound great, but this is well short of that kind of free pass.
[4]


Kashmir ft. David Bowie – The Cynic
[4.90]


Doug Robertson: Like Mew if Mew were a bit more rubbish and had more of a desire to rock. Badly.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: Kashmir managed to exist in their native Denmark since 1991 without me hearing a single their track of theirs. Due to the influence of “The Cynic,” I can now say my life is a tiny bit more dull. Just think, for the past fifteen years of my life, the world had a unique kind of dullness that was yet to enter my life. Kashmir may be boring, but by god are they spiritually enriching.
[3]

Martin Skidmore: The sound is so mushy and horrible that I wasn't sure first time through if there was any Bowie singing on this or if he might be doing something else. He is singing, but he sounds half dead, which is as much as this dismal trudge deserves. It's rock of some kind, with guitars that are sometimes loud and sometimes not, and there are some drums too. I don't really understand what this kind of record is for.
[2]

Peter Parrish: Some pretty spiffy guitar screeching segments can’t save this from the apathetic jaws of mediocrity. The one who isn’t Bowie adopts a vocal stance entirely drained of passion; perhaps to express just how edgy and cool he is, perhaps because he’s simply disinterested in what’s happening around him. The one who is Bowie does his Bowie thing, but you can tell his heart isn’t really in it. Still, at least it’s a slightly more interesting cameo than Dolly Parton managed this week.
[5]

Ian Mathers: I guess I just really like Danish rock? Kashmir sound here a bit like a darker, heavier Mew, more noise-rock than noise-pop, and Bowie sounds surprisingly natural duetting on “The Cynic” – the lyrics are darkly suggestive without ever really meaning anything, the guitars thrum mightily, and if Tin Machine had sounded like this they wouldn't have sucked.
[8]


Charlotte Church - Moodswings
[5.00]


Peter Parrish: Saucy sex minx Charlotte, 20, bursts back with another lusty, busty choon from the school of phrrooarrock. You can swing my mood any time, darlin’!

Floozy boozy Charlotte, 20, staggers back with another hungover choon from the toilet floor of bleeuuuurrrock. Give it a rest luv, you’re all washed up!

For the truth, see pages 2, 5, 8, 9 and 52.
[4]

Edward Oculicz: In which everyone's favourite boozy slapper takes time off from falling out of taxis to break into Anastacia's studio and steal the one good song from her next album. Well-crafted, a good fit with Ms Church's persona and a quite smashing chorus too.
[8]

Hillary Brown: Michael Jackson song with rock-girl chorus that treads up and down the scale in a very appealing way, yet Charlotte can also do far better than this. This is lazy angry, not “I will cut you with a broken bottle”-angry, and she’s done the latter before without compromising on the pop.
[5]

Martin Skidmore: I'd not heard her pop music before. She has little idea how to phrase - there's an awkwardness that I suspect comes from the choral background: her pop timings, elisions and slanginess are forced where for most teenagers they'd come naturally. Her technical excellence is of remarkably little help, and the soft-rock slathered over this doesn't much help matters. There's nothing much of interest going on here, nothing to remember, no sense of direction. I've listened to it four times now and I still don't know what it's about, if anything.
[3]

Steve Mannion: Church’s voice here feels lacking compared to something like Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Breakaway’; considering the competition, she might want to pull her socks up a bit. The build up throughout verse to chorus is nice enough, but overall this is a bland effort, lacking the strength to stand out. It did make me think of Holly Valance’s equally dozy but somehow sweeter ‘Naughty Girl’, though, which doesn’t happen very often.
[5]

Doug Robertson: Charlotte here ignores the ballsy pop – and the rubbishy ballad she released which, to be fair, everyone else did as well - that helped move her from Granny’s favourite to FHM honey, or whatever patronising nickname that magazine feels duty bound to inflict on the world’s female population, and instead offers up a more laid back piece of piano pop which wouldn’t sound too out of place on Atomic Kitten’s first album. Which, by the way, is a good thing. They only turned into yawnsome AOR cover machines after Kerry left, proving conclusively that she was the talented one.
[7]


Jurga – Aukso Pieva
[5.22]


John Cameron: Although I don't care nearly enough to research the source of this quote, I remember someone declaring that it's nice to see the whole world's music evolves at the same pace as ours. To that end, I give you Jurga, who clearly have not yet flipped the last page on their studio's calendar and discovered that 1998 has, in fact, ended.
[4]

Jonathan Bradley: Initially sounds like the interminably dull chillout that people who don’t want to be listening to music listen to, but that’s actually only the vocals. The chorus is disturbingly gloomy, a nagging undercurrent hidden beneath the washed out strings. And even if the guitar strums in the verse are too feeble to be interesting, the toms and fuzzy static breakdown after the chorus suggest that this could have gone somewhere. Maybe if it had a different singer, since Jurga is further proof that every country has its Dido.
[3]

Edward Oculicz: Like a mix between world, elevator music, the Hungarian entry at last year's Eurovision and the dreamier, poppier end of trip hop as it died slowly and painfully outside the top 40. And for all of that, absolutely gorgeous.
[8]

Peter Parrish: A subdued opening hints at smoky foreign bars and slinky backstreets. Teasing bass takes the lead until the curtains fall away to reveal a cascading Cocteau-esque chorus, calling to mind all manner of sweeping alien scenery and ancient unfulfilled legends. It urges you to escape this town of incense and splendour, scale the cliff-face and gaze across the ocean as it crashes and breaks on the rocks below.
[8]

Hillary Brown: Sounds like a miserable, empty, drunken dance floor at the end of the night, but bongo magic and a glass jug full of appropriate melodrama sell it. There is a romantic deep inside almost all of us, especially when we’ve opted for that last and crucial beverage. I love you, man.
[5]


Ch!pz – 1001 Arabian Nights
[5.30]


Doug Robertson: Apparently knocked up using the demo button on a non-name brand keyboard, it’s fantastically cheesy, all boy-girl vocals with vaguely Arabic instrumentation thrown over the top as it precariously walks the tightrope of brilliance over the water pool of self parody, completely ignoring the trapeze of credibility swinging high, high above them, well out of their reach.
[7]

Steve Mannion: Chipz don’t have quite enough clichés to cover the number of nights they’re planning to spend in Arabia – in fact they’re about 953 short – but doubtless this will bother their target audience, i.e. them pesky kids. The Vengaboys template is revived for a three minute tour that’s too bright to feel like natural light and lacking the warmth of same. Not even a major key shift for the final lap can save it.
[1]

Edward Oculicz: The music of some people's nightmares. Of course, not mine, as I'm one of those people who could actually tell individual Vengaboys singles (of which this is a close cousin) apart. Chipz have in the past been a very entertaining lot, but on this occasion the chorus is a tiny bit too close to Fast Food Rockers territory for my liking, and all the comedy Arabian sound effects and filters can't save that. Annoying, but catchy.
[5]

Martin Skidmore: More or less named after my favourite book ever. It starts with some clip-library Middle East sounds, then they just list some things they think are Arabian, like Egypt, "open sesame" and New Delhi (not a lot of research and fact-checking going on here, I think), and they pronounce "Arabian" to rhyme with "Caribbean" - perhaps this is true in Dutch, but they are speaking English, more or less, here. Fantastically dumb, and it bounces along very pleasantly in a lightweight Euroboshing Costa Del Sol holiday disco manner. I like it, but I have a notion it might drive me crazy if I had to hear it twenty more times.
[7]

Mike Powell: A breathless Euro-pop update of “middle-eastern” entries in leatherbound encyclopaedias from the 1890s or conquest stories of North Africa – junior in father’s lap with a cup of cocoa peeping “Daddy, pwease tew me anovva stowwwy!”; charmingly racist, passably enjoyable, prom-theme possible.
[5]


Swingfly – Something Got Me Started
[6.78]


Hillary Brown: Stupid clangy music for trendy young TV ads, but a) that stuff gets picked for a reason, and b) the whanging on the drums is quite good and energetic. One Coke Zero, por favor.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: Ramps up the frat boy lunkheadedness — Swedish frat boys? — too much to be truly enjoyable, which is a shame, because with the flanged, skanking guitar and propulsive lo-fi drums, this could have been a worthy successor to “Fit But You Know It.” Apparently, though, it takes to talent to rap as poorly as The Streets – “I do my thing thing, swing swing, no bling bling” makes Mike Skinner sound like Cam’ron.
[4]

Steve Mannion: Choosing not to deviate significantly from a template forged by the fiery ‘Cobrastyle’, the occasional Teddybears STHLM MC delivers a predictable but rousing party-track in tune and on time. Marks off for stretching the word “ready” as he does however.
[7]

Martin Skidmore: First point: hurrah, not a Simply Red cover. This sounds as if it was recorded in someone's garage, but it's nonetheless totally irrestible - it sounds kind of like a bootleg, oddly, or like someone finding a great choppy and bright pop-rock sample (think Strokes at their early best), then rapping over the top of it - anyway, rather like a new 'Stroke Of Genius'. He sometimes stretches syllables awkwardly (rea-eady) but he's otherwise fun and energetic. I'm enjoying it more every time I play it.
[9]

Edward Oculicz: Loses points for being so damned repetitive, but a more than acceptable daft shout-a-long that would probably sound progressively worse on repeated listens, unless you're getting progressively drunker, in which case it would eventually become the best song ever. It's got energy, though, a nagging riff, some tinkling bells and is pretty much as light as air despite being pretty loud at the same time.
[7]


SOUL’d OUT – Tokyo Tsushin
[6.89]


Mike Powell: Have you ever seen a movie in which a character masquerades as another character so awkwardly that it becomes a kind of sleazy, mildly disturbing farce? SOUL’d Out is sort of like that, or maybe like the marketing confection the heroic garage band has to conquer in the final scene of a heartwarming underdog film. “Tokyo Tsushin” pants through 80s dance pop with enough flair to suffocate a horse, so overwrought as to actually suggest physical constipation. Like a fat man in a Size S tracksuit, it reminds you that a poor fit is pathetic, charming, and more entertaining than you usually expect.
[7]

John Cameron: It should be so wrong to love this song, but everything about it is so right. It sounds like one of South Park's genre piss-takes, both in how ridiculous the hook is and how exuberant everyone involved sounds, right down to the incredibly silly backup singers - "CHAAANGE!" - and syllable manipulation. Everything about this song is basically just goofy, surreal rap that sounds like it should be in the dance club in an eighties movie about the future. But for all of this, it's a really good song. Its hook is sheer fun, its synths are giddy, and it exudes a dorky charm. If they're taking themselves seriously, then this song is the most awesome example of irony ever; if not, SOUL'd Out are hilarious post-modern geniuses.
[10]

Jonathan Bradley: Gloriously uncool, like Hall and Oates, except good, or Phoenix, except Japanese. I keep seeing references to these guys being rap, but apart from some corny rhyming about, well, I don’t know — it sounds like they’re saying, “up, up and up and down the hoedown,” though I can’t vouch for the accuracy of my transcription — this mostly just seems like glorious ‘80s soft disco. It works because of SOUL’d Out’s absolute commitment, from the falsetto backing vocals to the ridiculous scatting, and, of course, the synth drum break down.
[7]

Hillary Brown: They make Right Said Freds in Japan? Some small bits of amusing dorkiness and a drop of Zappa push it into not-hate-land, but it’s not novelty enough to please genuinely.
[4]

Peter Parrish: Skips along with a sense of joyfulness completely removed from crippling irony or self-conscious wackiness--and is all the better for it. The refusal to settle on a single language for more than about thirty seconds leads to a confusing English-Japanese brainmuddle, which (perhaps slightly shamefully) gives the impression of some mightily odd lyrics appearing; such as a section which is clearly about Omar Bakri’s battleship. It doesn’t hurt that the vocal style veers extremely close to various South Park parodies, nor that the chorus seems to be “Ooh wooah up bup tiddle bup .. OOOH”.
[6]

Martin Skidmore: Ooh, lovely disco music, I thought as it started - it's a bit Jazzy Jeff/Fresh Prince 'Summertime' in fact. Unfortunately it doesn't really sustain its early promise, with some absurd and inelegant what-the-fuck-are-you-ON-about? singing over the top, though the nimble rapping is good. The third phase is when you get accustomed to the deep stupidity of the singing, when it goes back to being great fun again. A fascinating listening experience all round - shame I can only give it one overall mark...
[7]


By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-02-27
Comments (4)
 

 
Today on Stylus
Reviews
October 31st, 2007
Features
October 31st, 2007
Recently on Stylus
Reviews
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
Features
October 30th, 2007
October 29th, 2007
Recent Music Reviews
Recent Movie Reviews