Having determined that I’d rather lick clean the channels of fluff underneath the sofa cushions than listen to a new Oasis single, we turn instead this week to Benicassim saviours Whomadewho, alt-country Manc scamps it’s a buffalo and Stockholm New Exoticans Air France, while taking in the undoubted pleasures of The Invisible, despite their reminding us of Big Brother contestants.
Single of the Week!
Whomadewho - 'This Train' / 'The Plot' (Gomma)
An apparent fascination with stoner rock and falsetto vocals should be just the sort of thing to raise one’s itchiest and unignorable heckles, but ‘The Plot’s ridiculous leaning toward Muse-style am-dram wibbliness and Whomadewho’s determination to take all the elements of musical history which take their fancy and swish them up into a fizzy cocktail complete with the aural equivalent of paper umbrellas, three plastic swizzle sticks and disco ice cubes make for a very silly and infectious. ‘The Train’, on the other hand, has just the right amount of Glam stompery, loud-hailing vocals and lolloping riffs, with some added French house whooshes and bouncy synths on the Noze re-rub. Really quite delightfully daft.
The Invisible – 'London Girl'
Beginning with a bassline which one suspects is quite deliberately reminiscent of 'Rapper’s Delight', 'London Girl' then has the misfortune to remind us of Big Brother’s white fly girl Aisleyne, with a lyric about a girl from London town who ‘knows herself’. It’s not The Invisible’s fault, but that sort of rhetoric can only remind us of one thing – the horror of personal ads in which budding lovers describe themselves as ‘aware’ (OF WHAT?). Indeed, there’s a ‘conscious’ element to the lyrics of London Girl which should put me right off this concoction entirely, but given that a hatred of earnestness is wholeheartedly my problem, one is happy to report that this is excellent – slinky, slippy, with elements of !!!’s reverberating chang-a-lang riffs and whispery vocals. The magic fingers of Joe Goddard have pummeled out a mix with the discordant piano and hammering drums for which the Chips are rightly loved - and lo, it is good.
Dan Black – ‘Alone’ (A&M) Video here
Having become something of a bloggers’ darling after 'HYPNTZ' – it’s now up to Dan Black to capitalize on all the tastemaker praise and show us what he can do when left to his own devices. The problem, or so it seems to me, is how to recapture the glorious juxtaposition which marked out his first release – Black’s self-conscious vocals having proved a winning foil to the choral daubs and uh-huh heaviness of Biggie. Happily he’s some way to achieving this with ‘Alone’ – a slap bass confection of pop twitchiness with sliding alarms and sparse breakdowns which confirm him as one to keep an eye on, as long as he can quell the urge to whine and sneer when he sings. Free download of 'I Love Life' on his website, what is here
its a buffalo – ‘Seaslide’ (Akoustik Anarkhy Recordings)
All very sunny, this hails from the same pop country ballbark as the Broken Family Band, though where Cambridge’s roundly adored four piece indulged in rollicking and emphasised nastiness, Manchester’s its a buffalo – naughty grammar and capital letter allergics that they are – plough a less cynical furrow. This one – all alt flourishes and roundabout riffs – is apparently about the ‘futility of drunken one night stands and car-crash, drug-fuelled relationships’. Given that they sound like they’re enjoying themselves, one suspects they’ll be keeping it futile for some time to come.
Flashguns – ‘Locarno’ (Blue Flowers Records)
All very jangly with the sort of stop-start, stroppy and dominant drums which make you wonder who’s in charge (and one suspects the fellow at the back with the sticks in his hands), this is perfectly serviceable indie pop marked out by some pretty vocals which are in turn let down by some fairly unimaginative lyrics about red skies at night and barrels of guns. It’s produced by Stephen Street - all very well, but even with that pedigree at the controls, this, sadly, is doing nothing fresh with a template already tired out, overwashed at 90 and with quite a few holes in. Nice twinkly bit at the end, though.
Air France – ‘No Excuses’ (Something In Construction)
With an intro one could easily mistake for something off the next Sophie Ellis Bextor long player, ‘No Excuses’ then starts to sound disturbingly like a Lighthouse Family backing track. Which one suspects is not what they intended. Maybe it’s the washes of sunny strings, or the fact that one can imagine a score of sunburnt berks gurning and chewing their cheeks through another chillout wind-down on a beach at the arse end of the Costas, but this seems shiny in a rather empty, overly pretty and winsome way. And it’s got some 90s ‘dance’ bongos on it. It’s ‘New Exotica’ apparently, for the genre nerds among you.
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