IMHO Music -- Winter '01/'02

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2002 Reviews
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Emerge, FischerSpooner
Doors
Digital Love, Daft Punk
Doors
Souljacker, The Eels
Doors
Star Guitar, The Chemical Brothers
Thank god this is a return to a lighter, trancier sound for the Chemsters after the stocky beats on digyerownhole and the 80s synths on whateverthelastalbumwascalled. The lyrics say all that they need to "You should feel what I feel, you should take what I take", all accompanied by an astro gliding guitar that makes you reach for the sky. Top notch.
Cold As Ice, MOP
My flirtation with hip hop -- albeit of the most commercial variety -- continues with the several month old blinder of a track which magically blends the Foreigner tune with the usual hip hop 'tude.
Closer To Me, Five
Syrupy ballad about nothing at all, but another strong tune and a fond farewell for the boy band who gave us the hit of the year, "Let's Dance".
Hideaway, Mick Jagger
Never really listened to any of his stuff until a confluence of positive reviews about his latest album, Goddess in a Doorway. This is profoundly unoriginal early 1970s Stones stuff, shorn of the Keef guitar but melodious in the spirit of Goats Head Soup tracks.
Girls Girls Girls, JayZ
Misogynist at first sight, this is really an amusing piss-take of stereotypes. A Diana Ross-style "oh baby" crooning in the background, the rhythm  Classic.
Powder Blue, Elbow 
What have I been doing that I can have missed this spidery, shimmering single? A piano lick that Coldplay would eat their underpants for combines with a falsetto for a Radiohead night in. A melody more complex and melancholic I don't remember (but then I am an amnesiac).
Good Souls, Starsailor
Something to do while we're awaiting the next Doves album, perhaps. Profoundly unoriginal but a decent enough stab at the sensitivewhiteboyguitarmusic.
Drifting Away, Lange | Blast The Speakers, Warp Brothers
Also following the formula to the T, Lange & Warp Brothers get the trance / hard house cookie cutting awards of the week. Who cares, when they'll shake you onto the floor in a nanosecond?
Take Me To Broadway, Gonzales
Bizarre. Barmy. Brilliant. "I've got an extra testicle, but you skeptical about spectacle, these days bad taste is so delectable, and the crowd is so suggestible". Sounds faintly Gorillaz-like in its bouncy beats.
Stand Clear, Adam F featuring MOP
A Dark Star style comedy-drama fanfare introduces an equally epoch-defining moment in hip hop (OK, enough with the hyperbole). But this ain't no lo-fi concoction, its production invokes a series of quasi-drum/bass jazzy sound and beats, before  the 50s sci-fi chorus antics. Lyrically, it's the usual "I'm the best chap in the world so you'd jolly well better look out". The predictable sluice of swearing is immediately unleashed "B*tch, motherf****, ho, n*gga". But I defy you not to be overawed by the sheer force of the bloke. Get out the way, this geezer's gonna rock your day.
Ugly, Bubba Sparxxx
Eminem lives on? I'm not sure if this is Em's uncle/checkout girl/protege, but the style is unforgettable. But Bubba isn't making fight music, he's much more sampley & Dancey than the Emster, not quite as much lyric spitting. Still, if you're going to rip off a track what better than 'get your freak on'?
Getting Into You, WOSP
The vocals may reek of Mick Hucknall, and the percussion leans even more heavily on Simply Red's Brasilian Carnival ode, Fairground. But those are not necessarily bad, as a simple keyboard riff lifts the track into the trance zone. Very much hope to hear this as a misty-eyed end to the evening.
That day, Natalie Imbruglia
A Travis-style jangly guitar lick ("I'm sad sad sad", perhaps she should "sing sing sing"?) sweeps through the usual Lisa Loeb-style whingeing  (the poor nymphette is "small alone & scared, craving beauty"). Everything's bad but great, she's weak but she's strong etc. Indie Alanis it may be, but in the absence of any female poprock birds this week it seems to pop its head out & clamour for a feeding.
Why can't U free some time for me?, Arnold Van Helden
Heavy bass line marches forwards to herald the return of the Van, a returning conqueror hoisted on the shoulders of his club subjects. And on its wings (eh? marching with wings?) comes a scratched guitar loop, twisting quickly enough to make you feel as though you've been whirled around in a high speed tumble drier for twenty minutes. The pitch on the machine-distorted vocals is too high for the chorus, pushing the cheese level to 'fondue'.
I'm so crazy?, Part T One
Thud-thud-thud is accompanied by Startrek high pitched choir noises & violins to resuscitate yet another ancient INXS track. Simple but probably a good first-track-of-the-night, while you're waiting for that Red Bull to Kick (geddit?) in.
Falling, Alicia Keys
A lovely little piano accompanies this talented songstress, very much in the mould of "Stop" by Sam Brown waybackwhen. I still seem unable to adore this type of music, but I'll keep trying
Whatever happened to my rock n roll?, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
The Sex Pistols would be dribbling onto their beer guts to hear this slice of retro high-fueled guitar, even if it doesn't match the melody of Rotten et al. A pleasant, if unchallenging, diversion in old fashioned noise. Maybe I just feel guilty 'cos when they were supporting the Strokes we were out in the bar being fed free drinks after failing to scalp our extra tix.
Young, Fresh & New , Kelis
That space invader backdrop -- the urgency of the spaceship's imminent departure -- nearly serves to elevate this RnB track beyond its blandness. But not quite, it just doesn't go enough places musically, and is too downbeat. Basically a lyrical update on Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues", so maybe that was the point.
Chop Suey, System of a Down
Not exactly a fan of Nu metal. That 'It's Been A While' single bores the pants off me. But I'm hoping that Staind turn out to be the Scorpions of the NM breed. As the title suggests, this is bi-directional/shouty rap melody that seems to smell a bit of the Bare Naked Ladies' '1 Week'. One suspects that this is the single Metallica/Axl Rose would have paid Napster to put out, but that Queen would have nicked it off them en route to the recording studio. Brian May for Tory leader?
In the End, Linkin Park
A coincidence I'm sure, but this is also a bit of a corker. Just a jangly pop tune with a big chorus driven by a decent vocalist. Look out for the Atomic Kitten version in a year or two.
Flawless, The Ones
Rearrange the following: hit one wonder. Old-skool Gallic muzak, made for playing in a French club with glitter on every wall, tinsel hanging from the ceiling & some 40 year old suited geezer in the corner with a couple of putane. I heard this compared to the genius that is the Avalanches -- absolute scrobbins. Plastique Bertie would be shimmering in his velvet suit.
Party Hard, Andrew Wk
Now then, if it's retro you're after, why not head back to nineteen-eighty-something with this big-hair-inspired, lazer-guitar driven 'party' track. Check out the Def Leppard rhythms & daft lyrics, as they free you from the faux Nu Metal angst. You'll love it for, erm, 1 wk and never want to hear it again. Too late.
Sunrise, Pulp
Well well well, if it isn't the long-awaited return of Pulp. I've seen them slated for their last album and I'm not HP about it. Dark, yes, but a little less pedestrian, I felt, than the Common People album. Anyway, this song is pretty much a representatin of that path. Sure, the references to curtains and being "bloody pathetic" are there, but the 3 minutes of choir-assisted crescendo ending with Layla-esque calm before the final storm. Make no mistake -- their Stairway to Heaven, albeit a heaven ridden with self-doubt. Fantabulous.
Twiggy Twiggy, Pizzicato Five
Why not embark on a trip down memory lane to revisit the Pizzicato Five's vastly-underrated-at-the-time classic, "Twiggy Twiggy"? Heard it a couple of times on Mark Radcliffe's Graveyard Shift in '94, and then randomly on the Charlie's Angel's Soundtrack (which must have seen the best possible inclusion for Smack my bitch up, but I digress). Yes, who knows what those Japanese lyrics mean (other than "nominiskirt") but a bouncier, catchier grrlie track with a gloriously Blur-style cheesey ending I'll wager you cannot find. And that percussion/bass arrangement was nabbed by the FunLovinCriminals, unless I'm much mistaken.
What Would You Do?, City High
Not usually a fan of the Fugees' type thing but that 911 by Wyclef was nae so bad. This has a stronger chorus but weaker verses. Maybe I'm still on the Puff Diddy rap comedown (not much else competes. Time for new Eminem).
New Born, Elbow
Did this band have to license the Coldplay whiteboy sensitive mid-tempo rock franchise? Cookie-cutter it may be, but if you're bored of the most overplayed song of this year (Yellow), this certainly has a bit of getupandgo.
Fear, Ian Brown
Shame on me, I never even heard any of the Monkey Business album, but former Stone Roses singer Ian Brown has come up with a fairly haunting, spidery melody -- not underproduced, neither. Who hasn't got a touch of "Fear" these days?

Last edited: 17-Dec-2002

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