The Singles Jukebox
Kasabian Do Ska



hello and welcome to the sixth week of the revived Stylus UK Singles Jukebox, the guide to the best, worst or otherwise of the singles that will be hitting the shelves of the UK’s record emporiums this Monday and then leaving them very, very slowly. This week sees our panel mainlining glucose, loving Neil Gaiman, fondly remembering the Inspiral Carpets and equating Coldplay with renal failure, while evaluating the likes of the Chemical Brothers and Ja Rule. We also get our lowest scoring winner thus far by a fair old distance, as the real rain continues to hold off. First up, though, British indie band in ‘meh’ shocker:


The Rakes – Retreat
[3.09]


Paul Scott: There are people who believe the Libertines were the most important band since The Clash and the whole punk upsurge in general. These people are obviously either deluded or insane. The thing they seem to forget is that the punk movement inadvertently spawned bands like This Heat, not just The Lurkers and Sham 69. The Libertines, though, have spawned a bunch of bands that make The Lurkers look like This Heat. Ladies and gentlemen, The Rakes.
[2]

David Jones: So which noughties single is the definitive statement on the mendacity of office life -The Rakes ‘22 Grand Job’ or The Futureheads’ ‘First Day’? Take note Libertines, Hard-Fi and all (literally) the Others. That’s real jobs like real people have, not pretending to be Dickensian chimney sweeps guv’nor. ‘Retreat’ isn’t as good as ’22 Grand Job’ by a long shot. It does have the leering charm of a drunken teenager though, which can only be a good thing: “that girl at the bar is well nice, and she’s lookin’ over
[…] should I give my money to a good cause or save for a holiday?”
[7]

Doug Robertson: It’s punk! Except that rather than taking their inspiration from The Buzzcocks or The Sex Pistols or The Ramones or anyone like that, they’ve taken the remarkably brave move of allowing themselves to be heavily influenced by the sort of no-mark punk bands that fill up the latter half of CD 2 on Punk compilation albums for no other reason than that it costs bugger all to license the tracks.
[4]

Joe Macare: Today the tabloids are full of sordid tales about the supposedly sordid rent boy past of Pete Doherty. I can't help but think that accepting £20 for giving a stranger sexual favours is a lot less demeaning than being in Babyshambles. And I feel there's a lesson to be learnt here for The Rakes, useless talent-free tosspots to a man, who in a finer world would be chained up and thrown in the North Sea for releasing this.
[1]

Peter Parrish: The humble rake. Truly least interesting of all the gardening implements. Lawnmowers may be usefully employed to disturb slothful members of society from slumber, present a deadly sentient adversary in a low-budget horror flick or, in the case of those ride-on ones, raced for cash prizes. Hoes possess all manner of potentially hil-ar-ious pun potential. Wheelbarrows are just wacky. Rakes? Rakes are back-breaking labour and watching all your hard work be undone by a dismissive gust of wind. Let’s all just remember that.
[3]


Ja Rule feat. Lloyd & Alexus – Caught Up
[3.55]


Doug Robertson: Taking time out from his day job of ruining other people’s records by turning up to rap half-heartedly two thirds of the way through, Ja Rule decides instead to ruin his own record by rapping half-heartedly throughout the entire track.
[2]

Mike Atkinson: There’s something of the post-Kanye West about this stab at giving gruff ole Ja Rule a commercial crossover hit, by setting his guttural mutters against some sweet Eighties Groove soul stylings. Unfortunately, no-one seems to have been able to stir up must interest from Ja himself; almost relegated to a guest spot on his own record, he sounds distracted and disinterested. A couple of minutes in, and all the ideas have been used up; the rest is merely crank-it-out repetition. Nevertheless, by the end of the song – with all the vocalists having packed up and knocked off early to beat the traffic – there’s something of a reprieve, as the backing track is given some space to gently unwind, in an almost dub-wise style. It’s the best bit by far. (But shush, no-one tell Ja. He has probably never listened that far. What he doesn’t know can’t hurt him.)
[5]

John Seroff: I can't hate on perfectly serviceable pop rap but every time I hear from the-man-who-would-be-Pac, I have to wonder what more Ja Rule could possibly have to offer. Honestly, this could be a four year old outtake and who would be the wiser? I'll give you Lloyd's pleasant r+b crooning and a reasonably catchy synth-string/bleep-chime melody on the track, but Ja's gruff mutter-lover grumblings were tired back in 2000. The somewhat-saving grace of decent production has kept Ja's one-trick pony show from being put out to pasture thus far, but enough is enough already.
[5]

Alex Macpherson: Lovely summery backdrop: strings which swoop and stutter, vocals like chocolate and cream from random guest vocalists Lloyd and Alexus. Best of all, Ja Rule leaves it to them for the most part - nevertheless, his drunken tramp flow is still so repellent that when he does make an inevitable appearance it's like miserable, grey drizzle interrupting a glorious heatwave, and tarnishes it far too much.
[6]

Mike Barthel: This is sort of a summer jam and sort of a nighttime jam, which of course averages out to a summer napping jam. I do kind of feel like I could close my eyes and let this song drift me off towards warm weather. Maybe it'll sound better competing with the ice cream truck jingle.
[3]


Bodyrockers – I Like The Way
[4.30]


Joe Macare: Ugh, this is disgusting. A disgusting groove that I can totally imagine dancing to. I feel soiled and used. Damn you, Bodyrockers!
[7]

Alex Macpherson: Here's your Happy Shopper LCD Soundsystem, folks! Like we need one of those at a time when even the real LCD Soundsystem are getting boring.
[4]

Jessica Popper: This is one of those songs that's almost brilliant but something about it just isn't quite right. The actual music is good but the singer's voice is weird, and not in a good way.
[6]

Mike Atkinson: Sporting a central rock guitar riff that is doubtless as close to Deep Dish’s “Flashdance” as highly paid teams of international copyright lawyers will allow, “I Like To Move” has all of the workmanlike insistence of “So Much Love To Give” by The Freeloaders, without any of the latter’s redeeming sense of breezy joy. Indeed, its brutal effectiveness as a motivational blunt instrument for those who have been denied the benefits of a broader musical diet suggests to me that the Bodyrockers are nothing less than the Turkey Twizzlers of dance. (It’s no use trying to wean them onto nice, healthy, organic “microhouse” either; there’ll be rioting in the streets before chucking-out time.)
[6]

John Seroff: I SAID, THIS PARTY IS DEAD! THE PARTY! IT'S DEAD! YEAH! NO, SHE'S NOT HERE! LET'S MAKE THE ROUNDS ONE MORE TIME AND SAY GOODBYE TO EVERYBODY! THERE'S BOUND TO BE SOMETHING BETTER GOING ON DOWNTOWN!
[3]


Nine Inch Nails – Hand That Feeds
[4.64]


Joe Macare: I love goths. I love black leather and I love tattoos and I love ripped denim and I love PVC and I love piercings and I love Neil Gaiman and I love dyed jet black hair falling over eyes caked with eyeliner and I love Suicide Girls dot com. Most of all, I love the weird crossover territory that exists between moody gothic industrial rock and trendy electro-house bobbins. Girl: I want to take you to a Goth Bar.
[7]

Peter Parrish: Instant bonus points for inevitably pissing off the dark clad legions with a Saturday morning appearance on CD:UK - and wearing white too, good heavens! I’m hoping the groundwork is now laid for Cat Deeley to introduce a reformed Bauhaus supported by S-Club Juniors in the near future. I skipped the NiN lessons in goth school, so quite how this fits into their oeuvre I really can’t say. Still, evident dance beat sensibilities, scuzzed-up bass and stuff like “Inside your heart it’s black and it's hollow and it's cold” should keep the faithful morbidly cheerful enough.
[6]

Mike Barthel: I am told by a longtime NIN true believer that the newer records tend to reveal themselves slowly over time, and that may be true, but all I know about this one is that it sounds like the Girls Aloud cover of "Jump (For My Love)!" Maybe if you think about it from that angle it'll be more appealing, because it seems worth considering. It also sounds like a touring version of Pigface consisting mainly of Sleater-Kinney.
[5]

John Seroff: Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that the Trent Reznor of '89 would want to kick the '05 version's ass? 'Hand' is a picture of NiN as a sleepy, neutered dog that used to knock over garbage cans and indignantly piss the carpet; a single marking the point at which sheepish-looking men in their early thirties try to convince their younger cousins that "No, really; they used to be, like, IMPORTANT." Without Trent's trademark slacker-whine, I would've pegged this as just another utterly-disposable pre-pubescent 'me-against-the-world' tantrum-anthem. Memo to Reznor: YOU ARE FORTY. Get a haircut and a real job.
[5]

Mike Atkinson: For all of their mock-outraged accusations, Trent Reznor and the boys seem considerably less likely to “bite the hand the feeds you” than they are to seize it in both hands and cover it in a thousand eager smooches, so manifest is their desire to score a fratjock-pleasing MTV2-friendly hit with this piece of witless, desperate froth. Once upon a time, they wanted to be Jim Morrison fronting Ministry. Now they’ll just settle for being Fred Durst fronting Garbage.
[3]


Hard-Fi – Tied Up Too Tight
[4.73]


Luke Martin: Kasabian do ska.
[2]

Mike Atkinson: The latest adherents to the age-old English tradition of disaffected petit-bourgeois youths from the suburbs (in this case, Staines in Middlesex) casting beady, aspirational eyes over at the glamour, grit and grime of the big city, Hard-Fi have – almost inevitably – caused the requisite “buzz” at this year’s SXSW festival, and now stand poised with studied faux-ennui at the threshold of success and excess, veneration and ruin. There’s an anthemic quality to this which puts me in mind of 1993-era Blur in their 1966-era Kinks phase, as well as a tantalising snatch of piano towards the end which would have evoked the glories of Jools Holland on The The’s “Uncertain Smile”, had it been mixed a little higher and allowed to go on for a little longer. I think everybody should be allowed to say this once, without fear of redress: file under “promising”. Ooh, proper rock criticism!
[7]

Fergal O’Reilly: This was interesting to hear for the first time; at the start as the moody, hip-hoppy string stabs give way to spindly guitar lines and squelching noises, you're not really sure what you're getting, aside from a vague sense of foreboding. Then the rubbish half-assed London Indie vocals come in, and there's some pointless sludgy riffing and you're like oh, right. But then the chorus proper is fantastically menacing, especially for something with 'na na na na naaah' backing vocals running all through it. Flawed but interesting, at least.
[6]

Alex Macpherson: My god that is a truly awful band name. In that context, 'better than you'd expect' is something of a backhanded compliment and really, once you realise that the strange juxtaposition of church choir and indie-plod music is likelier to have been the result of a mixing desk mistake than any spark of creativity on the part of Hard-Fi, the song probably doesn't even deserve that limited praise.
[4]

Mike Barthel: It takes a minute and a half to get anywhere, and then that place turns out to be the Doves covering Coldplay, which is sort of like an Ebola patient cooking up a big pot of renal failure stew. They are useful insofar as they demonstrate how a really loud, loose, feedbacky guitar part can still sound uninteresting.
[1]


Editors – Munich
[4.75]


Joe Macare: In a week crammed with mediocre indie guitar nonsense, this is a surprise: actually good indie guitar nonsense! It's a little bit Killers, a little bit Interpol – great planing guitar sound, dramatic vocals - but without the punchability factor that accompanies both of those bands. What's even more surprising is that the Editors are based in Birmingham, thus making 'Munich' a good answer to the question “Can anything good come out of the Midlands?” (I'm allowed to say that, believe me...)
[8]

Jessica Popper: This sounds a bit like Interpol from last week but without that song's strange appeal and therefore, quite pointless.
[4]

Mike Barthel: See, it's stuff like this that gives retro a bad name. We've had decades to perfect the style, why not spend an hour or two on songwriting, lads?
[1]

Peter Parrish: Speed! Urgency! We’re in a car, we’re in a plane, we’re late, we’re late for a vaguely significant date! Let us build upon this early suggestion of genuine momentum by doing ... nothing at all with it. Hello ordinary singer, singing ordinary indie things (random lyric: “You’ll speak when you’re spoken to”). Hello guitars. There’s nothing especially *wrong* here. It’s all fine. It’s all solid. Why am I left with a faint sense of nonplussed disinterest?
[5]

David Jones: I’m giving this zero. Paul Morley’s argued that the post-punk scene is conservative because it takes the politically charged music of Gang of Four, cuts out the politics and preserves a hollow aesthetic. So what are we to make of a song that takes the revival as its starting point? Lazily splicing The Killers and Interpol like this is fucking offensive. I’d like The Editors to kindly return the minutes of my life I’ve wasted listening to them, the cunts.
[0]


The Chemical Brothers feat. Kele Okereke – Believe
[5.18]


David Jones: Some perspective: when the Chems were at their block rocking peak in 1996 the fourteen year old Bloc Party fan of today was five years old?! How on earth can we explain to them why we thought this repetitive big beat bollocks was the way of the future? Because back then there was a Tory government, whose members were the only people allowed mobile phones? Because the internet was only good for looking at particularly blocky pictures of Jennifer Aniston-alikes with no Calvins on? Fortunately this is rather good: Kele’s trademark anguish smothers itself nicely over those klaxons we know so well. But don’t spoil it with that Clash sample at the end. It only serves to remind how much better ‘Dub Be Good To Me’ is.
[7]

John Seroff: Can I say I don't like this without being labeled an enemy of fun? It's such a bland, paint-by-numbers track. Sure, it's relentless and intense; but less like the oncoming storm and more like herpes. I've never been a fan of the Chemical Brothers; all their tunes strike me as lackluster club-banger placeholders, grout for more inspired wax to be spun atop. I'm more likely to shrug than to bounce on this one.
[3]

Mike Atkinson: Everything else in this week’s list is Product; this alone qualifies as Art. I’m a particular sucker for the agreeably deranged bloops and blarps that sit above the rest of the music: melodically and sonically separate, but oddly complementary, in much the same way as on the comparatively restrained “Negotiate With Love”. A thundering juggernaut of a track, this plays to the Chemical Brothers’ traditional strengths. It therefore succeeds where the brave-yet-flawed attempt at mould-breaking that was “Galvanize” fails.
[9]

Mike Barthel: I sure hope they don't reveal any eternal mysteries of life in the final four minutes of this or anything, because I zoned out. Pretty good noises, but jeez guys, can't you just hire Basement Jaxx's vocalists instead? Also, please do not repeat the noises four times and then drop them out, because that just says "I haven't heard any electronic music in the last 8 years," and we know you have, Los Brothers Chemicale, plus it devalues some actually quite good noises. Someone should give that great little synth squiggle its own song and have done with it.
[4]

Alex Macpherson: More big name dance producers who used to be good prove themselves to have long passed their sell by date, and provide ammunition for broadsheet cunts to claim that 'dance is dead' like they know anything about being alive. Resolutely stodgy and unimaginative, the Chemical Brothers' substance of choice is now clearly the boiled potato. I can't imagine this soundtracking anything more strenuous than a solo TV dinner.
[4]


Kim Lian – Teenage Superstar
[5.55]


Doug Robertson: Kim Lian, who appears to have fallen asleep in a dressing up box, has decided that the best way to launch her UK pop career is to give us a bit of punk pop that even The Noise Next Door would have second thoughts about releasing. It’s easy to imagine UKIP using this as a convincing example of why close ties with Europe are a bad idea.
[3]

Mike Barthel: OMG WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS. This is the wonderful thing about pop: we've got all this post-teenybopper "Ima reeebel" positioning being done by female singers in the wake of Avril, but instead of it being a devolution from her fairly blah beginnings, because it's pop, it's all being done in public, so there needs to be a constant escalation, and things are just getting simultaneously harsher and more tuneful. The chorus here could be in Josie and the Pussycats, and the verse is hyper-Busted Fountains of Wayne would be proud of. I feel like they made it just for meeeee.
[8]

Jessica Popper: Despite what her embarrassing clothes, hair and video may suggest, Kim-Lian is in fact owner of a fantastic pop album. It may be nothing particularly original but she sings with such energy and enthusiasm that I'd take her over Avril or any of these other 'rock chick' girls anyday, gravity-defying dance moves and all!
[8]

Joe Macare: My sources tell me that this plays over one of the endless good-humoured, wacky montages of beach volleyball, keg parties and non-consensual underage watersports in American Pie 5: The Screaming Body. Sometimes poptimism is really, really difficult and this is one of those times. All the elements of Kim-Lian herself and of this song ought to add up to something that appeals to me even as it pisses off 90% of people I know, but somehow it's just too forced, too self-consciously wacky, too derivative of Wheatus for fuck's sake.
[4]

Paul Scott: Teenage Superstar squeezes every smile inducing trick from modern pop and rock into a near perfect 3 minutes. It’s there in the muted teasing intro. It’s in the little whooshes and explosions that occasionally push the song up a gear. Most of all, it’s the way the chorus hits, rushing on layers of distorted yet clean guitar and in the midst beautiful, beautiful harmonic backing vocal that give the song a weird, so-happy-I-might-cry gravitas, it’s so vivacious, so incredibly joyously powerful. Like the first few S Club singles or Andrew WK it surrounds and penetrates every part of your body with the sole intention of making you throw your body at things. It’s like being pre-pubescent, mainlining glucose and then running as fast as you can for no reason apart from the fact you can.
[10)


Tegan & Sara – Walking With A Ghost
[5.75]


Paul Scott: Sheryl Crow’s new twee direction is certainly a surprise.
[5]

Luke Martin: I’m a fan. It’s a lovely bit of lo-fi indie-tronica that just happens to sound like the crazed ramblings of a stoned duck with a sore throat. Quirky pop song of the summer.
[8]

Fergal O’Reilly: Strange song; quite a sparse, guitar-pop arrangement all through, and they seem content to repeat the same couple of vocal hooks, weirdo pronunciation and all, without taking it anywhere new (is she singing "please, not incest" there? Understandable, I suppose). All the individual elements are quite nice, especially the cheapy "Mr Brightside"-like synths that appear in the background, it just seems to be trying to squeeze too much mileage out of a few lines that aren't quite enough to carry the whole song. Still, it's only two and a half minutes, and there's certainly something oddly compelling about it.
[7]

Doug Robertson: What Gwen Stefani would sound like if Gwen was actually as good as she thinks she is. This is a bit of a slow burner, but once it’s wormed its way into your brain it’ll lodge there like a malicious earwig, chewing it’s way through your pleasure receptors. Though the experience in general is much more pleasurable than having your brain eaten away from the inside. Promise.
[9]

Mike Barthel: Things you should know about this: a) I thought for sure, based on the name, that Tegan & Sara were a twee American indie group; b) the hook is the way they strum the first chord, which is impressive; c) it sounds a lot like Bon Jovi's 'It's My Life' and that No Doubt Talk Talk cover; d) it seems to be using its short length (2:30) as an excuse not to go anywhere.
[3]


The Caesars – Jerk It Out
[6.17]


Jessica Popper: Absolutely love this song and the band are Swedish which always helps! Their current single in Sweden, "We Got To Leave", is just as good, so I hope "Jerk It Out" does well so that too can get a UK release and they'll be the biggest Swedish act since Eric Prydz (I think topping his success may be a little over-optimistic).
[10)

David Jones: “I’m a slavering gibbon. I have no personality. My music collection only consists of soundtracks from hilarious Channel 4 sitcom Teachers. Ha! The teacher on the telly has just wet himself and shouted “fuck”! I’ve just realised that the cheap iPod I’ve bought has no screen, but that doesn’t matter because I’m going to fill it with faceless drivel like this…” Alright, enough sneering. It’s catchy. The ‘it’ is presumably this song and the jerking is me trying to get the bloody thing out of my head. But it’s so overexposed. When I accidentally hum it on the tube people frown at me as though I was whistling the incidental music behind the BBC1 idents.
[6]

Fergal O’Reilly: This feels like a song I've known for ages and already become utterly sick to death of, even though it's relatively new to me; the rubbish organ riff evokes a particular sort of 60s-room-in-a-bad-indie-club mediocrity. Unexpected pathos ambush at about 2:30 as the middle eight brings the melancholy jangle, but it's disappointingly back to its old ways before long.
[4]

John Seroff: Although 'Jerk It Out' attained its greatest heights of popularity from an iPod ad (the Oprah Book Club of pop music), my continuous exposure to it comes from obsessive play of SSX3, where it is a definite song of choice for imaginary extreme snowboarding. The faux-ska organ, 'Wipeout!' guitars and snotty, echo vocals somehow add up to considerably more than the disparate sum of their parts, leaving you with a genuinely catchy and enjoyable bit of bubblegum. Destined to show up on "Now THAT'S MUSIC! 2014", 'Jerk It Out' gets the honor of being the '05 song that the hip guy at the party doesn't want to like, but does.
[8]

Doug Robertson: The excitement levels briefly rose as the ghost of the Inspiral Carpets hovered over this track like a scent of desperation hovers over Geri Halliwell. Unfortunately, however, despite all their fantastic singles, the Inspirals didn’t half come up with a lot of crap album filler and this is very much in the latter camp.
[5]


By: UK Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-04-18
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