Friday, May 18, 2007

everything is going down the pan

Is it only me that sees the immense irony in the fact that one-trick ponies the Kaiser Chiefs new single is called "Everything Is Average Nowadays"?


And considering they have beaten their one song idea to within an inch of its life, I find it interesting that "Everything Is Average Nowadays" has the same number of syllables as "Everyday I Love You Less And Less"...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Siobhan Donaghy - Ghosts.

The lost Sugababe returns with her second solo release, once again trying to shake off those 'pop' stains.
I listened to an interview with her around the time of the release of the first single, with promises of diversity and a distinctive leftfield approach. I can only wonder what album she was referring to.

It's a very ear friendly album, no doubt about that, but there's a distinct lack of songs that grab the listener by the throat and throttle them until they hit the repeat button.

I really liked the first single "Don't give it up" from the first time I heard it. Spikey keyboards, great percussion and a wonderful teasing way she sings each line. Lot's of over-lay on her vocals and some clever mixing make this stand out from the usual crowd and it was the overall mellow-ness of the track that got me hooked.

"So you say", "There's a place", "Make it right" and "Coming up for air" are all pleasant enough songs. Delivered in a Sheryl Crow/Cardigans style with the occasional wash of strings to retain the interest, however there's nothing really special or different about them. She does seem to use these more traditional arrangements to showcase her vocal talents and sometimes she meanders in a lovely style. It's just not enough.

Where the album picks up is on the tracks that have a more unusual feel to them. Presumably these are what she describes as 'left field'. "Halcyon days" tips a hat to Massive Attack, "Ghosts" presents clever backwards trickery and is what I imagine Bjork would sound like if she collaborated with Groove Armada and "12 bar acid blues" begins as a Crow then gets swallowed up by electronica. "Sometimes" has some great lush production, I just wish she'd written different lyrics because quite frankly....they suck. And "Medevac", whilst having a interesting sound to it, sounds far too similar to "Don't give it up". She sings the line "If only you could...." and it's just begging for a loop or sample from Kate Bush.

"Goldfish" deserves a mention on it's own, purely for the humour factor. Programmed drums, plonking keyboards, nice backing vocals all fine. But every now and then we are treated to what I can only describe as Ross from Friends playing his keyboard. There's washy noises, zips, bangs, pops and buzzes that do everything they can to conjure up that episode of Friends when Ross shows everyone his 'keyboard skills'.

I was kinda hoping for an outstanding album, particularly on the basis of the lead single and her own comments on the rest of the tracks. Instead I've got a slightly disjointed collection of songs that are pleasant enough to listen to, but sadly lacking in the choke-hold factor.

Try some of these on for size:
Don't give it up
Halcyon days
12 bar acid blues
There's a place

Currently filed in the 'Mellow me out' folder.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Under my um-ber-ella.

Genius pop record or annoying crap pile of toss?

Friday, May 11, 2007

the worrying kind

Well, it shows how much I know. My Swiss tip for Eurovision went out with a whimper in the semi-finals last night (despite being the third favourite to win the whole thing).

Stupid contest.

Anyway, this is my favourite entry and my tip to win. Despite Germany's big band number, the Ukraine's drag act, Serbia's big ballad and the UK's double-entendre filled nonsense, I think this might just do a job come 11pm tomorrow night.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Night I Lost My Head

Yet another missive from Cat's column...

Maximo Park's first album, the multi-million selling A Certain Trigger was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, and their eagerly awaited follow up, Our Earthly Pleasures, has received excellent reviews. Their UK tour sold out in hours, so my expectations of their live performance were high.

I wasn't disappointed.

The crowd at the Music Hall on Sunday 6th May were in high spirits - probably buoyed by the fact it was a holiday weekend and the Dons had secured a draw earlier that afternoon. Opening a sell-out gig is a tall order, and sometimes a soul-destroying job, but the audience welcomed Art Brut on stage with open arms. Eddie Argos and his band carried it off with aplomb, playing a 30 minute set which included the singles Emily Kane and My Little Brother. While Argos is reminiscent of a young Conservative MP, and has been likened to the odious Tom from Keane, there's little doubt that he puts on a good show. I suspect they may have gained a few new fans who'll be eagerly anticipating the release of their second album later this year.

Maximo Park came on stage at around 9.30, opening their set with Graffiti. Lead singer Paul Smith leapt around the stage throughout the gig, despite being clad in a suit and hat - both exhausting and invigorating to watch. In many ways, Smith is the perfect front man. He's energetic, extremely charismatic and appears to genuinely enjoy what he does. He chatted to the crowd between songs, making reference to
the last time the band played in the City, the beach, and Pittodrie - the crowd roared their appreciation, and responded with chants of "Max-I-Mo, Max-I-Mo, Max-I-Mo..." instead of the usual "Here we go, here we go, here we go". The band played their way through singles and tracks from both albums, including the current single Our Velocity and hits Apply Some Pressure and Books From Boxes.

After around 90 minute of aerobics, I was surprised Smith wasn't ready for a nap, but the band encored with a version of The Proclaimers' hit, 500 Miles, which went down a treat. Unusually for a cover version, Maximo Park very much made it their own. This personal touch delighted the audience, especially as the band played only two Scottish dates in their tour. The final track of the evening was, aptly, Going Missing, after which the band exited to rapturous applause. The crowd cheered and
stamped for more, but no dice.

The last time Maximo Park played in Aberdeen was as a support act at the Lemon Tree. I wouldn't be at all surprised if their next tour sees them sell out the Exhibition Centre. Far from Going Missing, Maximo Park are going places.

The Night I Lost My Head - Maximo Park



I have to say that I have now watched this video and listened to this a few times and I have absolutely no idea why this is the bookie's favourite to take the 52nd Eurovision on Saturday night.

Still, top of the betting it is, so I guess you can make up your own mind whether you're going to back the newly Montenegro-less Serbia entry. The fact that I wasn't sure if it were a bloke or a woman didn't help.

Monday, May 07, 2007

vampires are alive

Considering the semi-final isn't until Thursday night, I could be tipping songs that won't even end up in the Eurovision competition proper, but I guess I'll take that risk....

This is my first tip for this years title. DJ Bobo is already one of Switzerland's biggest stars (er, not saying much, I suppose). I think this could do really well, although the actual accompanying video does it better justice than however old Bobo might perform it live.

Anyway. My first Eurovision tip - DJ Bobo - "Vampires Are Alive" (Switzerland)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

won't you tell me where i've been going wrong?

So, with it being only a week until the 52nd Eurovision, I thought I'd begin the countdown here. Over the next few days I'll preview some of my tips for this years contest but I thought we'd start first with my all-time favourite British entry. A controversial choice (some would say), although I think it's a great bit of pop, this.

Forget Cliff, or Bucks Fizz or even Katrina and the Waves. Let's go back to 1992 for a bit of fine Eurovision nostalgia....

Would it surprise anyone to know I bought this single?