Additional words: Samuel Strang
SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Late Of The Pier – ‘Heartbeat’ (Parlophone)
Deranged prog-pop conundrums, Late Of The Pier’s warped, flickering synths are here twinned with Samuel Eastgate’s finding of a vocal that’s as much Sparks don Ron Mael’s shrill operatic bawl as it is Marilyn Manson’s melody-deprived croak. But as Eastgate hollers away that they’re “in and out for the count / having the shout before the drought”, ‘Heartbeat’ rears up as another slab of the Castle Donington wizards at their apocalyptic best, like some theatrical Associates swansong where Billy Mackenzie got together to with Brain Eno over sangria and decided that gaudy guitar solos would sit well against their mechanical grind. Given the recent duds Erol Alkan’s thrown up, this trip to the circus is the territory that the electroclash darling needed to get his teeth into. Off the awesome pandemonium that is Fantasy Black Channel (review), this joins the pile of hypnotic preceding releases, eating away at any taste you might have like some malignant cyst listening to Genesis. If nothing else they should be applauded for not relentlessly pushing ‘Bathroom Gurgle’ until everyone was eating from their palms. SS
ALSO OUT TODAY
Noah & The Whale – ‘Five Years Time’ (Mercury)
An unexpected success on the hit parade – it’s resting at ten, before its physical release – this delicate slice of folksy loveliness from London foursome Noah & The Whale mightn’t tickle the taste buds of those demanding high energy from their standalone cuts, but it’s a charmingly subtle ditty replete with regulation handclaps and lyrics delivered deadpan, about heartfelt subject matters wholly sweet. It can pass by the listener completely unless you really focus in on its whistles and twangs, but so far as never-saw-that-coming wins this summer go, ‘Five Years Time’ settles at second behind ‘Dance Wiv Me’.
Kasms – ‘Taxidermy’ (Trouble)
Somewhere in my mind, some moons ago, Ipso Facto made out with The Horrors and birthed a demon-fronted garage band by the name of Kasms. And then: bloody hell, said band only turned out to be A Real One. With the borderline possessed Rachel Mary Callaghan up front, this London foursome aren’t tearing up any rulebooks with their stylish noise, but they deliver the goods in such punchy fashion that their atmospheric punk can’t be ignored. It’s a short and sharp burst of aggression that bodes well for the future.
The Futureheads – ‘Walking Backwards’ (Nul)
The revival of Sunderland’s favourite alt-pop rockers continues as their latest offering from album three This Is Not The World (review) picks apart the process of being on a label where control isn’t entirely in your own hands. Get it? It’s, like, autobiographical. But who cares, really? It’s got puppets that look a lot like Muppets in the video, and that’s all that matters. The Futureheads’ spiky-riffed formula might not have significantly altered any since their self-titled debut, but why fix what isn’t broken when you can make it that bit more appealing by simply getting all Bert and Ernie?
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Video: The Futureheads, ‘Walking Backwards’
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The Shortwave Set – ‘Now ‘Til 69’ (Wall of Sound)
Danger Mouse-produced shimmer-pop from The Shortwave Set, who here make out like the ‘80s never truly ended with an acoustic-strummed and vaguely Roxy Music-ish number that isn’t quite as special as its on-paper promise suggests. Pleasant on the ear, for sure, but also rather too light for anyone to truly care – repeat-play potential sits at zilch.
John & Jehn – ‘Fear Fear Fear’ (Faculty)
John & Jehn are perhaps more ‘fight-pop’ than the sub-sub-genre’s pioneers, Dananananaykroyd – while the Scots use their hyperactivity to up temperatures, there’s true, tangible tension in the music of this real-life couple that threatens to engulf the listener completely, pounding their synapses ‘til submission’s the only option. It’s not battering-ram stuff, stylistically, either, owing much to Lee Hazelwood’s downplayed melancholy. Yet still the hairs are raised, and the throat dries: more drama in three minutes than an EastEnders omnibus.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – ‘Midnight Man’ (Mute)
Okay, you rumbled us – this was released officially last Monday, but no Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds release should be without a mention on DiS, especially given the brilliance of the outfit’s latest LP Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (review) and so ‘Midnight Man’ appears here. If there’s a frontman alive today who can vocalise the heart ache and break, and gut-feeling temptations and desires, the burning pits of depression and the scorched soul of those touched by a beauty unobtainable, of the average man better than Cave, we’ve not heard them. He’s magnificent, a ringleader for the tormented, for the tortured; he’s the gesticulating master of ceremonies, exorcisms and séances. Look, we just love the man. Yeah? Yeah.
Video: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, ‘Midnight Man’
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Santogold ‘Lights Out’ (Atlantic)
Dancing off back into the closet only to reappear in some equally garish frock, every Santogold single has been like watching some faceless princess disappear melodramatically only to reappear moments later in some new costume to wow all. It’s a different one each time, but no matter how many outfits Santi White might own, doesn’t mean they’re any cop. New-wave drudgery. SS
The Gutter Twins – ‘God’s Children’ (Sub Pop)
Lifted from their stellar Saturnalia LP, ‘God’s Children’ serves as a superlative showcase single for one of the rock records of the year to date – Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli always made for an appealing duo in the mind’s ear, and here they make good on the promise laid by separate careers of myriad ups and down(ers)s, fusing to formulate soaring choruses that dally with imagery of suicide and diving into an unspecified darkness. But despite the morose overtones, ‘God’s Children’ positively lifts the listener from whatever stupor they’d previously descended into, boiling the blood like all passionate art should.
Tinchy Stryder ‘Stryderman’ (Takeover)
Any respectable grime tyke needs a self-absorbed opus soaked in a healthy dose of braggadocio to call their own round Bow – and this is Tinchy Stryder’s call to arms. After last year’s Star In The Hood, the former Ruff Sqwad upstart has roped in dreary garage connoisseurs Kano and Fraser T Smith to produce and Wiley for the remix, so shows some aspiring nouse from Stryder, holding hands and hoping for the heady heights of grime royalty. For the moment, though, guesses are it’ll continue to elude him, as ‘Stryderman’ is a somewhat pedestrian affair. But who knows what he’ll be bent into when he appears on nu-world music banshees Gang Gang Dance’s return, Saint Dymphna. SS
Video: Tinchy Stryder, ‘Stryderman’
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