Single Reviews Diary 26 – 30th July 2010

I’m very generous with the ratings today guys but that’s because I pretty much like every song released on 30th July. My Track Of The Week is going to surprise and disgust many people. The Stinker was difficult to choose but received it for disappointing me rather than being a bad song. Read below. So happy that I’m quickly catching up on these SRDs also!!!

Single Reviews Diary 26 – 30th July 2010:

01. Arcade Fire: Month Of May
Critic darlings Arcade Fire are all geared up to release their third album
The Suburbsrather unwisely on the same day they drop the album’s lead single as well as two promo singles. The first of two promo singles is Month Of May, a fast paced chugger with dark lyrics about “killing in the month of May”. It’s a serviceable tune and does the job of engrossing the listener but when it ends, I was just left thinking “Is that it?!” It’s good but a little forgettable to be honest. 3 STARS

02. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
The title track and second promo single from the album like
Month Of May is another serviceable rock tune but not as great as I expected. The song is slightly reminiscent of The Beatles with its plodding piano keys and ‘60s style, bouncy mid-tempo instrumentation. I was hoping for something with alittle more fire to it but The Suburbsis a pleasant enough Summer tune with some gorgeous falsetto vocals but it still feels somewhat lacking.3.5 STARS

03. Arcade Fire: We Used To Wait
Now this is more like it! AF rediscover their fire on this OFFICIAL lead single from the album. Building up with some energetic plinky plonky pianos and meaty guitars, the song has an ear-snagging catchy chorus, detailed lyrics, layered arena type backing vocals and faintly reminds me of the Eels, which isn’t a bad thing at all. With this single, the band show off the urgency that made me fall in love with their breakout single
Intevention. 4 STARS

04. Ash: Carnal Love
Sigh! I like Ash but I am so glad this A-Z project is nearing its end. It’s getting tiresome reviewing decent yet unexciting pop rock tunes from the band. The band have put a little effort into the single, filming a music video for it but the song is nothing to blab about. The Northern Irish rockers are in angsty mode here with brooding lyrics and a whiny yet very catchy chorus. Credit to the band for keeping a consistent line-up of singles but the lack of hype or vastness surrounding them is just depressing.
3 STARS

05. Corinne Bailey Rae: Closer
Poor Corinne. Long are the days gone by when
Put Your Records On was plastered all over the radio but I guess Bailey Rae has gone ‘too indie’ with her second album The Sea. Proving to casual listeners that the record isn’t made up bleak ballads (the album was inspired by the grief of losing her husband), Corinne releases the funky Mowtown of Closer. In it, the singer purrs seductively amongst an array of funky brass instrumentation. The 31 year old’s vocals sound absolutely gorgeous here and the fun loving lyrics are really suited to Summer time. One of the standout tracks from The Sea.4.5 STARS

06. Erykah Badu: Turn Me Away (Get MuNNY)
While Corinne has gone for a more subtle approach to funk, neo-soul singer Erykah Badu has gone all out on the funk with this mid-tempo squelchy disco tune. Badu sounds like a young macy Gray which I love. Her vocals are high, yelpy, accented yet controlled. This has a wonderful old school feel to it. Really reminds me of the 1990s R&B – soulful – before it became the watered down garbage sang by everyone and their mum today.
5 STARS

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
07. Flo Rida: Club Can’t Handle Me
I really wanted to dislike this song for three reasons.
1) Because I find Flo Rida a completely shallow, fad artist.
2) David Guetta being the attention seeker that he is, has a feature credit on it WHICH I REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE!
3) This is trying to do what Timbaland and Guetta himself tried already in recycling the iconic
I Gotta Feeling structure to score a hit.
But I can’t hate it! Because
Club Can’t Handle Me is actually amazing. And will continue to be after it drops out of the Top 40. It actually manages to sound like I Gotta Feeling– a really feel good party anthem that despite its flaws still manages to sound stellar because it just brings a smile to your face everytime you hear it. Guetta’s production is recycled but immensely danceable with pulsating beats and warm acoustic guitar licks. Flo Rida while remaining as one-dimensional as ever has a great flow that works great against the pounding club beats. And then the chorus comes in and everything slows down – an uncredited female vocal kicks in (seriously give her feature credit instead of Guetta) and combined with Flo provides a singalong anthemic chorus that leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. This is a party anthem that really inspires you through its sonic energy to enjoy life and the friendships you’ll develop while moving to this with friends/partners on the dancefloor, bedroom or in your car. Okay, I’m talking like this is the greatest thing since Jesus Christ but this has the potential to be iconic. I really believe that. So rather controversially, this is getting Track Of The Week. Rightfully, I should give it to Erykah Badu but since this will most likely be the first and only time Flo is bound to win such a prestigious award from me, I’m going to give it. Despite its flaws, this deserves no less than… 5 STARS

08. Frank Turner: Try This At Home
The singer songwriter tries to integrate himself into pop culture with this short yet sweet folk stadium rocker. Here, Turner encourages the listener to pick up their guitar and sing about relatable things like he does in the accompanying music video for this song. I guess Turner is trying to coax people to host random singalongs in public places (not necessarily a bad idea) but the cynical side of me is thinking he’s trying to get the public to stand up and copy him, hence starting an Internet phenomenon. Still, this track will probably go down a storm at live shows.
4 STARS

09. The Hoosiers: Choices
Haha I love this track! While I always enjoyed The Hoosiers comedic videos, their music has never struck a chord with me, no pun intended. With this lead single from their new album
The Illusion Of Safety, the guys shake things up by adding some vigorous synths (which I LOVE in the intro), some lovely use of falsetto on the verses and a storming chorus. Despite the electro influences, it doesn’t sound like all the other trash in the charts, instead taking on a New Wave feel, something their contemporaries McFly maybe should have taken note off. The Hoosiers have won me over and they’re sure to win over their other sceptics too with this stellar comeback single. 4.5 STARS

10. Marina & The Diamonds: Oh No!
This is my favourite track from Marina’s
The Family Jewels album. It has turned me from a casual Marina fan to a hardcore fun because it’s this song that makes Marina so loveable in the first place. Amongst a carnival of pounding double beats, flowing pianos and squelchy, cartoony synths, Marina sings in a high pitched mock operatic vocal for the irresistible chorus and exudes so much personality on the witty verses, my favourite line being where she sings ”TV thought me how to feel/Now real life has no appeal!” This obviously gets…5 STARS

11. Melanie Fiona: Monday Morning
Canadian soul singer Melanie Fiona actually sounds eerily like Alexandra Burke on this track. However, while Alex is a talented yet manufactured act, Melanie is all about the soul. This is a catchy number with solid vocal work and a funky yet modern sounding production but doesn’t exactly standout from the many other soul singers out there. Still, if this were promoted properly, it would be a hit.
3.5 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
12. Paloma Faith featuring Ghostface Killah: New York (Remix)
Ugh, re-releases! I have already lamented countless times the pointless re-releases of Florence + The Machine’s
Dog Days Are Over (although that re-release scored her a VMA nomination),Paolo Nutini’s Candy and 3OH!3’s Don’t Trust Me. Paloma is re-releasing her atmospheric single New York, one of her biggest hits. But to make things worse, this re-release will feature rapper Ghostface Killah. Now its normally pretty offensive as a member of the public to have record companies think we’ll buy a single just because it features a random rapper on it but it’s doubly offensive that a guest rapper was added to this song. This track has such an authentic, retro feel to it, like it belongs to some bygone era. Adding Ghostface Killah with his mercifully short yet painful rap just destroys the essence of the song and is an insult to Paloma’s talent. Nothing personal against Ghostface Killah, I’m sure he’s a fine rapper but its clear the record company only care about cashing in because a Ghostface Killah remix of Amy Winehouse’s You Know I’m No Good helped further Amy’s career in the US. How about separating Amy and Paloma and letting them be their own person instead of putting pressure on Faith to score a hit in her fear of being dropped. This is a shame because I didn’t think we’d ever see Paloma Faith on my Stinker list. 2.5 STARS

13. Pearl And The Puppets: Make Me Smile
Oh look! It’s another Scottish folk singer/band. This is a perfectly passable folk pop track with a great “doo-dooo-doo” hook and a repetitively catchy “just let it go, let it go…” chorus which help it to rise above dull. I recommend checking this band out because they appear pretty talented.
3 STARS

14. Sarah Blasko: I Never Knew
Ellie Goulding and Diana Vickers – meet your Australian counterpart. Blasko phrasing during the verses is something your either going to love or hate (“It’s not enurrfff!”). The backdrop of sparse beats and tambourines is interesting and I for one love Blasko’s smoky voice but this doesn’t stand out from many other AC tunes.
3 STARS

15. Sunday Girl: Self Control
This chick is a little too similar to Sky Ferreira if you ask me. This is a moody, atmospheric electro ballad. Think of Sunday Girl as a solo female version of Depeche Mode. She’s certainly an interesting popstar and I’ll keep my eye out for her but it seems that this track may be something that really needs repeat listens to grow on you. I’m not bowled over by the track, I can see the potential in it though and the potential in Sunday Girl so I’m ready to give her a chance.
3 STARS

16. Toni Braxton: Make My Heart
The former Queen Of R&B has struggled with her comeback but unlike Christina Aguilera and Jennifer Lopez, I appreciate that Braxton continues to push ahead with it and promote, keeping her name out there even if she is flopping. It’s no wonder she’s flopping though because this track isn’t very good. The verses are really funky and 1970s but then the chorus is really modern pop R&B with a catchy “dum-dum-dum” hook. It’s really jarring and makes the song feel incomplete and un-single worthy. Best confined to the album.
2.5 STARS

17. Villagers: Ship Of Promises
The Irish rockers recently topped their native Album Chart with new album
Becoming A Jackal. Can they perform as well in the UK? I doubt it. The poetic lyrics are certainly something that deserve that recognition but the song with its changing tempo, downbeat vocals and bounding drumbeats and guitar aren’t enough to draw you into what is essentially a dull song. The outro is rather good though with some epic backing vocals and discordant noises. Good but not as spectacular as most critics would have you believe! 3 STARS

Singles Reviews Diary 13 – 30th April 2010

I’m being extra good this week and getting in what is actually my thirteenth Singles Reviews Diary (I made a misprint on my last one). Summer is here so let’s see what songs we can listen to by the BBQ this week.

Singles Reviews Diary 13 – 30th April 2010:

01. Aggro Santos featuring Kimberly Wyatt: Candy
Unknown British rapper Aggros Santos and former Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt (the one with the slightly superior dancing to the others) get together for this unoriginal but surprisingly enjoyably infectious dance rap track. Generic as it may be, icy electro beats and a repetitive sexy chorus from Wyatt make this above the average club tracks were all hearing at the minute. Santos is also a pretty decent rapper, being a dead ringer for Sean Paul in looks and fast paced rapping style, although Santos has a London accent instead of a fake Jamaican one like Paul. However with the similar sounding and much more hyped
Dirty Picture being released this week also, this is unlikely to do well. This is by no means a classic but it succeeds very well in staying with the now without being irritating. 3 STARS

02. Beyoncé featuring Kanye West: Ego (Remix)
The human machine that is Beyoncé returns with the eighth single from her
I Am… Sasha Fierce LP despite not realising that everyone got bored of the era back in August after the release of Sweet Dreams. The album version of this track with Beyoncé should be a classic – old school R&B soul with classy pianos, a loud and boisterous brass section, finger snaps and flawless and sassy vocals from Beyoncé. The song sounds like it was taken from the golden era of R&B music. However, the video for the song is not so golden, more black and white Single Ladies knock off with Beyoncé wearing a dodgy wig. Worse still, Kanye West comes in “to keep the urban crowd” happy with an ill paced rap which he does in a sing-songy way while rambling on about recession and name-checking Beyoncé and Jay-Z. This modern rap sounds completely out of sync with the retro-ness of the song and hence spoils it immensely. Well, at least Kanye gets the rap out of the way at the start and the rest of the ‘should be classic’ can be listened to in peace. 4 STARS (But it would be 5 if Kanye didn’t wreck it!)

03. Biffy Clyro featuring Josh Hommes: Bubbles
I was a bit shocked to find that this was the fifth single from Biffy Clyro’s
Only Revelations album but then I remembered Mountains back in 2008 was actually the lead single from the album so I guess they’re well on their way through it. Bubbles features some extra guitar work from Josh Hommes of Queens Of The Stone Age and you can definitely tell as its one of the best tracks instrumentally on the album. Borrowing a little from Kings Of Leon, it’s nice to hear Simon Neil’s Scottish tinged verses but once the chorus hits, the song just doesn’t seem to really go anywhere. The prog rock breakdown at the end though is pretty satisfying. I would love if they release God & Satan as the next single. 3 STARS

04. Estelle featuring Kardinal Offishall: Freak
Oh Estelle! What have you done? After creating a modern classic with
American Boy, your following singles from your sophomore album Shine didn’t do so well but at least you maintained your dignity. With the lead single from her third album All Of Me, Estelle enlists David Guetta to help her jump on the dance bandwagon. The song’s main hook “I can be a freak/I can be a freak/every day of every week” is cringeworthy and irritating and overall, the song just sounds a little desperate and calculated. Props to Estelle for still managing to inject a little soul vocally into the track and the jumpy hooks in the song almost make up for it until Kardinal Offishall shows up for his pointless rap and I hate the song all over again. 2 STARS

05. Faithless: Not Going Home
You know this new single can only be bought exclusive to Tesco. For a brief second, I thought the final three words of my last sentence were actually part of the song title which had me intrigued. While the song doesn’t make any references to Tesco, Faithless show us all how good they are with another consistently strong trance track. Perfect for playing at a rave, the calmly spoken verses almost have a disturbing quality to them. Still, great song and the animated and erotic video is another one to add to the list of 2010’s Top Videos (quite a few already actually).
4 STARS

06. Foals: This Orient
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Foals but never actually took the time out to listen to them. Thanks to my writing of these Singles Reviews Diaries, I’ve actually listened to them for the first time.
This Orient being the first song I’ve heard from them shows a lot of promise. With an exciting electronic intro, the song opens with a crashing of guitars and drums while the synths continue to play quietly in the background. The song is a definite grower with a catchy yet subdued chorus. I’m going to check out some of their other songs now. 4 STARS

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I have to say that this week’s episode of Glee is probably the weakest and so are the selection of songs. Too many Broadway ballads for my liking. However with the incredibly talented Kristin Chenoweth back this week. Some of the songs are made above average thanks to her contributions. This week doesn’t have as fixed a theme as other episodes but it seems to be about feeling secure in yourself and your home.

07. Glee Cast: Fire
I’m trying to remove images of Will Schuester’s (Matthew Morrison) terrible dancing and portrayal of fake embarrassment when April (Kristin Chenoweth) starts a karaoke rendition of this song. While these two don’t have a patch on the original, their soaring rendition of Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band’s ‘80s hit
Fire is probably the best song in Glee this week. 4 STARS

STINKER OF THE WEEK!
08. Glee Cast: A House Is Not A Home
It’s great to see Chris Colfer as Kurt is getting more of a chance to sing this part of the season with only Cory Monteith’s Finn joining in towards the end. It’s probably not so great though if he’s given drippy and cheesy ballads, this one being a 1964 song by Dionne Warwick. Their version is solid but I found myself fast forwarding at Kurt’s cringeworthy longing looks at the permanently confused looking Finn.
2 STARS

09. Glee Cast: One Less Bell To Answer/A House Is Not A Home
This week’s mash-up is just plain lazy because one of the songs in the mash-up was already used in the episode, just before this song in fact. The other song was originally sung by The 5th Element. Credit needs to go to Matthew Morrison and Kristin Chenoweth for doing the best job they could with the rather boring mash-up, especially Chenoweth whose powerful Broadway vocals have a classic, old movie style sound to them.
2.5 STARS

10. Glee Cast: Beautiful
This is the song that’s likely to chart this week. Covering Christina Aguilera’s soppy modern classic is obviously the only singer close enough to rival Aguilera’s powerhouse vocals is Amber Riley (Mercedes). Her rendition is very good and on-par with the original but I could never really stand the song apart from its catchiness.
3.5 STARS

11. Glee Cast: Home
The closing numbers from the last two episodes have been extremely satisfying but this track is another boring but well sung Broadway ballad with lead vocals by April from the musical
The Wiz. I found myself drifting away from the song and verbally abusing the TV by telling Will to man up when the overly sentimental teacher began crying again during a performance. 2 STARS

12. Grace Jones: Love You To Life
Lady GaGa’s biggest fan makes a return to the industry with this new single. The track’s production is sparse and haunting yet it still sounds sort of like it belongs on a soundtrack to James Bond with its soulful chorus. Jones’ voice sounds as distinctive and poetic as ever. A fine return for Miss Jones that should keep her fans happy.
4 STARS

13. Hole: Skinny Little Bitch
I do love Hole and Courtney Love. Combining the sound of the Smashing Pumpkins, Joan Jett and Nirvana, Courtney Love’s tobacco edged vocals are the standout point of what is probably the angriest and grungiest moment on Hole’s consistent new album
Nobody’s Daughter. If you’re like me and love the 1990s grunge sound, then you will adore this. But in all honesty, this is probably one of the weakest songs on the album and it’s strange that this was chosen as lead single over the much more commercialSamantha. Bring on Pacific Coast Highway. 3.5 STARS

14. John O’Connor and Audrey Trainor: Falling Up
This is reminiscent of the Waterboys in that it has a very folky sound with a particular emphasis on the violin played by Trainor. O’Connor sings the track in a way that you almost want to chant along with despite its mid-tempo setting. I’ll have to check out more of his stuff.
4 STARS

15. M.I.A.: Born Free
After the surprise commercial success and mainstream attention of M.I.A.’s
Paper Planes, this track, a buzz single from M.I.A.’s as of yet untitled third album has divided fans and critics. Well this critic (humble old Randy) thinks the new M.I.A. is fast paced, intriguing and a good indication for the album ahead. Casual M.I.A. fans probably won’t like this but those who have been following her since her Arular days should enjoy this jarring track, made all the more so by the disturbing video. Now bring on the first official single XXXO, M.I.A.! 3.5 STARS

16. Mika: Kick Ass (We Are Young)
I actually have to say Mika kind of does kick ass on this song because I don’t hate it like I hate every other Mika single that followed
Love Today. And it’s not the RedOne effect that has made this song great because I’m definitely starting to hear him recycle his beats but rather Mika’s powerful, euphoric and anthemic chorus which really sticks in the head like bubblegum. A great return to form for Mika although I do feel his falsetto may get on my nerves after more listens. Hopefully, this will see Mika’s return to the charts although I doubt it. 4.5 STARS

TRACK OF THE WEEK!
17. Moby featuring Kelly Scarr: Wait For Me
The incredibly versatile Moby releases
Wait For Me, an ambient yet affecting track from his album of the same name. Kelly Scarr’s vocals are haunting and beautiful and Moby has designed the perfect backdrop for those fantastic vocals, really setting up a dramatic and atmospheric concept. In an ideal World, this would be a modern classic. 5 STARS

18. Ocean Colour Scene: Saturday
Starting off with the sound of cawing seagulls, the underrated but fantastic Ocean Colour Scene release the first perfect song of the Summer. The song manages to be high energy and chilled out at the same time with a big booming chorus, this perfect for that beach BBQ. This just about missed out on being rewarded Track Of The Week.
5 STARS

19. Pendulum: Watercolour
Pendulum are back! My excitement has waned slightly though as this doesn’t live up to my expectations and I know there capable of much greater. I wouldn’t give it 2 stars like the Big Mac did but Pendulum have released better songs than this. However, with a little drop of angst and racing, fast paced synths… the song still shows why Pendulum are regarded as one of Australia’s greatest bands. The drum and bass on this track has been toned down a lot on this from their earlier stuff though.
3 STARS

20. Sophie Ellis-Bextor: Bittersweet
Sophie Ellis Bextor is also back but don’t expect me to cheer. I like her but nearly all her songs sound the same – classy yet icy electropop. As some other ChartBlog commenter stated (can’t remember which one) – the verses on this are fantastic but the chorus is sadly lacking. Not good for a pop song and I’m getting tired of the ‘80s sound. Still I’ll forgive Sophie because this in the hands of someone else could have been disastrous.
3 STARS

21. Taio Cruz featuring Ke$ha: Dirty Picture
I really wanted to bomb this because this song is pure and utter trash – complete tripe!!! But I was in a nightclub last night and this came on and it just sounded fantastic to my slightly (very!) intoxicated ears. Cheap and sleazy (like a drunk person) – this song is designed for the nightclubs and does very well at that. Ke$ha really stands out here as her voice really fits the production of the song (her version of this track is far superior to this one) yet Taio bores me to death. We all know you’re not as bad as you say, Cruz. So yeah, this song is the ultimate classic when you’ve downed a few too many vodka and Red Bulls (I’m going to vomit) but is terrible otherwise. So I’m going to give it a safe old in between rating of…
3 STARS

22. Toni Braxton featuring Trey Songz: Yesterday
The original Queen of R&B and R&B newbie Toni Braxton and Trey Songz team up for this R&B power ballad. Generic is a word I throw about a lot but this R&B song isn’t exactly that. It’s more anonymous. A genuinely good power ballad, this could just have easily have been sang by Beyoncé and Chris Brown and no-one would have told the difference. Still decent R&B filler to make up a versatile iPod playlist.
3 STARS

23. Train: Hey Soul Sister
Having hit the Number 1 spot in the US and Australia and even making Number 2 in Ireland before its release, it baffles me that this song isn’t doing better across the pond in the UK. Because
Hey Soul Sister is the most catchiest radio friendly record to come out in a long time. Against a slightly folky backdrop, Patrick Monahan, the lead singer, uses his powerful voice to sing out this romantic and cheery ballad. Even though I find it strange that you’d metaphorically call your love interest your sister. Kind of creepy. All creepiness aside, this song is fantastic. Come on, Britain, get buying! 4.5 STARS

24. Two Door Cinema Club: Something Good Can Work
Woah! Woah! Woah! Am I listening to The Kooks or Franz Ferdinand when they were in their prime. Despite their unoriginality, Two Door Cinema Club have created a fantastic indie pop chorus here. Full of bouncy, cheery guitar riffs, a Kook-esque chorus and a melody you want to clap along to, this is another pefect tune for your Summer playlist.
4 STARS

25. Vampire Weekend: Giving Up The Gun
This has rather annoying been cancelled as a single despite good radio and music channel airplay,
Giving Up The Gun is a fantastic percussion heavy track with loads of twinkling synths and World effects towards the end. The song doesn’t have any real chorus but remains incredibly likeable and listenable probably because of the fantastic band and Ezra Koenig’s soft vocals. Check out the fantastic video which features cameos from Jake Gyllenhall, Joe Jonas and Daft Punk. 4 STARS

Phew! That took ages but I really enjoyed writing that edition of my Singles Reviews Diary. As usual, I want your thoughts on what’s good and what’s not as well as what you thought of the Singles Reviews Diary as a whole.