IMHO Music -- Summer '01

Tune of the summer? Most recent first

The Strokes -- which single was the best? In spite of its inexplicably naff drumbeat machine beginning, I'd have to say "hard to explain", with 115 plays over 77 for Modern Age is the winner.
Bad Boy For Life, P Diddy and the family
I've been half on the lookout for some sort of Eminem-style action since my bros introduced me to it in the incongruous environs of a plush ski resort. Certainly didn't think I'd find it from that from this, the bloke who made what has to be the genre's equivalent of Bryan Adams' 'Everything I do (I do it for the money)' on that Sting-penned sickly sweet tune that was No 1 for about 132 weeks. Anyway, seek no more, this is whiteboy-style rap but this sounds a bit more, erm, 'real'. Beastie-style Zep-esque guitar riff drives through it, but 'P' sounds smoother than liquid velvet. 
Do It All Over Again, Spiritualized
Was a bit disappointed by "Stop Your Crying" but this one hits the spot. The punk style lyrics "I'm going to spend the day in bed/and I plan on sleeping my life away" blend in with the classical arrangements seamlessly. Poppy both in its catchy chorus & in its sentiment ("I love you like I love the sunshine in the morning") and more than a nod to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. Can't see Mr Pierce taking up surfing, mind.
Hole In the Ice, Neil Finn
Thought the previous Finn tune was unmemorable, so has been duly deleted and, erm, forgotten. This 40-sthg rocker seems to be undergoing Sting-style creativity after the dissolution of Crowded House. Let the melody wash over you.

Is there any relation between Ice, Eskimos and Finns?

La La Land, Green Velvet
An updated eighties take -- Amityville-esque pattern -- on a nineties phenomenon. Roll-on the afterparty...
Set You Free, N-Trance
From the eighties, propel yourself to a mere 5 years ago, emerging from the ashes of grunge/britpop, the world's looking for something new, dance is going mainstream (at least in Blighty). Not as trancey as the name suggests, but this precursor was bang on with its lighters-aloft, quasi-soulful, soaring, female vocals. Where the track sounds dated in a naff way is its 2-unlimited style beats, not to mention the comedy foghorns blaring out through the thunder & rain -- poignant. Not sure why it's been re-released -- what next, calling Mr Vain? Snap? -- but as history lessons go, why not start here?
21st Century, Weekend Lovers
Bit of a sequence here, timewise. Like Vaiio's Rapture, a sad song for rainy club evening. A distance cousin of Whigfield's Saturday night & that Gypsy Woman track, all strong keyboard loops, swapping "la-da-di" for "do-do-do", the beat positively cajoling you into empathy. Suitably depressing & uplifting for this week. 
So fabulous so fierce, Thunderpuss/Jocelyn Enriquez
Not sure about how "original" this hyper-energetic take on Chic's Le Freak is, but it lives up to the (wonderful) image of a thunderpussy. Enriquez has the charisma to create a 70s-diva vocal to meld with the double-speed beat & screaming synths.
Rock the house, Gorillaz
Can't decide if Gorillaz are a one hit (albeit best-single-of-the-year "Clint Eastwood") wonder? This laid-back effort rides the line between being snoozeworthy & smooth. Luckily the chorus rescues it, with those Albarn trademark trumpets kicking in (think last track of Trainspotting). 
Out of my head, Kylie
I've never really been in on the isn't-kylie-a-goddess kick, but she is still turning out tunes that seem to outstrip her talent. Perhaps my refusal to allow her into the diva club stems from seeing her wooden acting on that Aussie soap, but I just, erm, can't seem to get that idea out of my head. Cheeky early 80s synth loop -- C64-style -- twinned with 
the (unintentionally homo?) erotic groans & a tune that Erasure would kill for. If this isn't number 1 then I will eat Schlumberger's losses for this year.
Supermen Lovers, Starlight
If you want to get closer to the source, try Starlight. In the wake (& spirit) of fellow Gallic popmeisters Daft Punk & Air, the Supermen Lovers pull some serious pop punches with this lyrically inane piece of non-stop soulful dancearama. Sort of an "It's raining men"/"we're lost in music" for this troubled decade. 
Not such an innocent girl, Victoria Beckham
Finally, also-ran this week is former Spicey Victoria Beckham, trying to sound like Jennifer Lopez, a midtempo sultry affair. Disappointing after that stonking collaboration with Truesteppers last year 
The Dark is rising, Mercury Rev
Not sure about the album as a whole but it starts, as did its predecessor, with a sweeping, orchestra-driven attempt at greatness. And just about succeeds. John Barry must be turning in his wheelchair as the track evokes Bond floating in an escape pod across the ocean with a bird in his arms, before Donahue floats down from the clouds to make a radical tack. Lyrically, they're hitting the same ground as before -- nature drives through everything -- the stars, snow & moon all appear as saviours, smoke & crowds are demonised accordingly. A slight update on the in-my-top-twenty track, Holes.

Still, you sort of have to wonder, along with the magnificent-but-straight Strokes/New Order/Bjork records, what's happening to eclecticism in bands? 
Turn Off the Light, Nellie Furtado
Remember Nellie Furtado and that played-to-death track about birds? You're not "like" a bird, dear, you are one. Shocking to say, but this is completely different; an accoustic, Indian vocal-tinged affair -- the sort of thing Madonna tried & failed that ray of light album. No idea what she's on about, mind.
Love is the key, The Charlatans
Still undecided about this effort, clearly aimed at shaking off their indie-boy image (possibly a consequence of them moving to LA). I think they might have pushed the funk/repetition angle too far, discarding melody in its wake. Two thirds of the way in the overplayed keyboards die off and Tim screams "I found you" as the guitars come to life, accompanied by gospel clapping. All too briefly.

None of the subtelty of "my beautiful friend", nor the earth-shaking, thundering rock of "one to another", nor the tear-soaked soul of "senses". Move back to Blighty.
I can buy you, A camp
Nina Persson (sp?), Cardigans chick, smooth version of another Scandinavian indie diva (yes, yes, oxymorons/geographical correctness be damned) Bjork. Key melancholic vocals, harmonicas wailing in the style of Dylan and who can resent the sentiment?
Supermen Lovers, Starlight
If you want to get closer to the source, try Starlight. In the wake (& spirit) of fellow Gallic popmeisters Daft Punk & Air, the Supermen Lovers pull some serious pop punches with this lyrically inane piece of non-stop soulful dancearama. Sort of an "It's raining men"/"we're lost in music" for this troubled decade. 
Let's Dance, Five
Is this going to be going the knuckle with Sclub7's "Don't stop moving" in those 2001 hits of the year compilation? A slightly more modern, Daft Punky feel to it (rammed  through a vocoder) but with a rap &, erm, funkier groove underneath -- at the expensive of melody, of course. Anyone sniff the Avalanche intro? 
Enjoy the paradise.
Crystal, New Order
OK kids, it's almost certainly my age but New Order circa Technique were truly blessed by the gods. That album was a masterpiece, all blissed-out technical pop made in the sun-drenched, smiley emerging scene of Ibiza ('89). But, let's be honest, Brutal was just that -- melody-free, overlong & rather dull. I wish I could say this was a blistering return to form, seems to be half-baked but at least Hooky is leading on with that trademark bass. 
Firewire, Cosmic Gate
Or the 'zombie nation' of 2001 -- if anything more anthemic. Corker.

Last edited: 25-Sep-2001

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