ello there. This week, as the summer passes to autumn and as the fun single releases will start to be overwhelmed by granny and toddler pleasing Xmas fodder so shall the poptimism of William B. Swygart also pass. Yes, this week the UK Singles Jukebox descriptions, but of course not the marks, are solely in the hands of one of the commentators. But it’s hopefully OK because we’ve got a good week on our hands with everything in broadly the order it deserves to be - all we need is for me not to fuck it up. Here goes…
Korn - Twisted Transistor
It seems strange to think that Korn have been troubling the middle reaches of the chart for almost a decade now, their first UK hit happening Oct ’96, and there’s no way they’ll make a breakthrough to anything greater at this point in their career. Instead, they must be in their dotage, slipping into oblivion. Let’s hope, because they sound like a relic, here channelling “Midlife Crisis” by Faith No More but with everything distinctive stripped away. Whereas earlier tracks like “Freak on a Leash” went straight to the centre of the target when it came to parent baiting, here the only annoyance factor is the brick wall limited mastering, which induces ear fatigue before the record is anywhere near finished.
Anastacia - Pieces Of A Dream
You’d think that it would be a blessing that “Pieces of a Dream” deviates from Anastacia’s earlier material in playing down her freak of nature ‘soul voice’ but unfortunately it follows the template of her Fantastic Four
soundtrack collaboration with Ben Moody, which was itself a Xerox of Chad Kroeger’s horrific “Hero” from the Spiderman
soundtrack. And it doesn’t get much worse than that.
Tom Novy - Your Body
This is tied with Anastacia, but really it deserves that extra 0.01 of a point to raise it above her. You’d think an Ibiza anthem might be something good to wake us and warm us at this time of year but this is too lumpen to do that. It’s not melodically or rhythmically catchy enough, sounding instead like a mid set pot boiler, keeping the floor moving without really doing anything. In its favour it manages to leave some space in its grooves and doesn’t attempt to crassly overpower the senses… oh wait, maybe that’s not so good. It would be cool if this record were available on vinyl as a single locked groove, because that’s what it feels like to listen to it, but it isn’t.
Goldie Lookin' Chain – RnB
There’s no need to ever hear this record, which consists of GLC parodying R&B;, as even if you do a poor job of imagining what it’s like you’ll probably be funnier and more acute than the real thing. This is about as memorable a pop parody record as “Here Comes the Chorus” by Morris Minor and the Majors or “Teenage Sensation” by Credit to the Nation, and who remembers those?
The Darkness - One Way Ticket
I know that it’s The Darkness’ raison d’être
to embrace rock cliché but to come back for your second album with a lacklustre version of your big hit and
make it about your post-success drug filled ennui seems to be following the script a bit too tightly. I’ll certainly give major props to Justin for slowly transforming his face into that of some cursed and benighted hobgoblin of the type that would appear on the front of a 70s Uriah Heep or Blodwyn Pig LP. That’s true rock commitment.
50 Cent – Window Shopper
In which Fiddy disses a whole bunch of other rappers by calling them window shoppers. This might be quite clever or cutting but I really don’t have a clue what it means. At least it’s an improvement his dissing of Fat Joe for being fat. Even if 50’s still no fun, he at least sounds a little more like he’s trying than he has done for a while, vaguely modifying his mumble into a ‘sing-song melody’ i.e. making it go up and down a note now and then.
Devendra Banhart – Heard Somebody Say
I think that Devendra might have done better in any other week but, as we’ll see later, an old stager has outdone him in this one. This is more appealing than most of his recent songs as he manages to stay away from his twin glam rock reference points - the overly mimetic Marc Bolan vocal affectations and the creepy, Gary Glitter style I-wanna-feel-a-kid-up lyrics. Instead we get a tuneful but slight anti-war song that ambles along gracefully and feels less than its three and a half minute running time. “Heard Somebody Say” doesn’t go anywhere but doesn’t stick around in the head either.
Field Music – If Only The Moon Were Up
“If Only the Moon Were Up” finds Field Music exhibiting the slightly more jagged, and much less distinctive, side of their personality. Compared to the other current and popular North Eastern groups like Maximo Park or, more pertinently, the Futureheads this sounds a little anaemic and under-developed; much less soulful and forceful than it needs to be. It would be far better for them to concentrate on their more beautiful and less strip-mined piano ballad side.
Antony & The Johnsons – You Are My Sister
Surprisingly this is the only record this week to seem like it’s gearing up for the coming season, as it really reminds me of “White Christmas”. As to whether this is an intentional marketing ploy, or even whether it’ll provoke the same response in anyone else, I have no idea. This should really earn Antony an appearance on some peak time ITV Christmas Day special though, and I’m not being snarky as I think people would really enjoy it. It would be no weirder than the popularity of Graham Norton or Dale Winton. In fact Dale Winton is much odder than Antony, especially if you see him in real life – Antony may dress up as a transsexual cherub child but Winton looks like he’s made of fucking TEAK! (I’m kinda ashamed to reveal this but I have no idea which voice on this is Antony and which is Boy George.)
Lady Sovereign – Hoodie
I went to see Lady Sovereign the other week at Fibbers in York, but she never showed up – or, according to Popbitch, she arrived, took one look at the venue and left. I was a little pissed off as I’d walked a half hour in the bitter cold to get there and then had to go straight back, but then Fibbers is a shit-hole so I don’t blame her. It seems a little weird that Lady Sovereign is getting her old singles compiled for the US on IDM label Chocolate Industries because she seems spiritually much closer to Daphne & Celeste than to the rest of the Grime scene. And of course that’s no bad thing when she’s making six months too late yet still irresistible anti-tabloid hysteria records. As enjoyable and as sick making as the sugar-rush after swallowing down half a dozen shoplifted Wham! bars.
Paul McCartney – Jenny Wren
Here’s wacky thumbs up Macca, normally one of my most hated pop figures, knocking Banhart into a cocked hat (whatever that is) with his best single since 1980 and maybe even longer. “Jenny Wren” does play up to McCartney’s weaknesses with a trite lyrical conception and a Beatles reference (according to Radio 4 anyway, I know as little as it’s possible to know in the Western world about that group), but it plays up to his strengths too, sounding like he’s just knocked it out with no effort whatsoever, except for the slight strain in his voice. Someone get McCartney to replace Devendra on the next Vashti Bunyan LP, that’d be a pairing worth hearing.
Gorillaz – Dirty Harry
I’m always slightly suspicious and can never let my guard down fully with the Gorillaz, but I’m thinking that this is entirely my own fault when faced with another ambling, shambling gem that confirms the Albarn ratio – the less you can hear of him on their singles, the better they are. Instead we get multiple simple synth hooks, a kids choir and complex but funky drum programming courtesy of Danger Mouse. It’s perhaps what Cornershop would’ve ended up sounding like had they continued continuing. In the debit column there’s another appearance from an old rappers’ home escapee, this time Bootie Brown from the Pharcyde, a group whose last good work was over a decade ago. Quit worrying if a rapper’s gonna say something sexist and get the Clipse on.
The Decemberists – 16 Military Wives
And here it is, the final victory of indie over pop. We’re sorry everyone, you were right all along – well, not really, but this is a worthy victor and a hella tight horn pop tune, like early Chicago covering Neutral Milk Hotel with some lyrical cops from Throwing Muses for good measure. I can imagine The Decemberists picking up some residual overspill of goodwill from the Arcade Fire based on this track, and they deserve it because the bold, endlessly building melodies and harmonies here are better than anything on the over-rated Funeral