The Dirty Dozen – August 2012
Veering from constructive criticism to outright disgust, Alejandra Deheza and Benjamin Curtis of School of Seven Bells have a good cop/bad cop gander at August's sixties-indebted promo pile.
Noisettes – That Girl (Mono-ra-rama, 13 Aug)
Benjamin: This is one of those songs that’s really hard to critique – if you like sixties music you’ll like this, and if you don’t, you won’t. I don’t think it’s necessarily creative; it’s more like wallpaper, or putting up a picture of Diana Ross in your bedroom. It just seems like decoration.
Alejandra: But then I think that’s probably what they were going for – if you wanted to create a new sound, then you would.
B: This is why it’s so hard to be a music critic, I mean, what are we critiquing on – whether they did a good job or not, or whether or not it’s worth a shit? In the job of recreating – 10 out of 10. But otherwise, 6.
General Fiasco – Bad Habits (Dirty Hit, 6 Aug)
[An initial look of bemusement gives way to laughter. Alejandra looks a little lost for words]
B: People still make music like this? I really, really hope that in 50 years there isn’t a fucking band recreating this.
A: I… er… this is really not my thing. But I can understand why people might like it – it’s got melody, and the dude has a lot of emotion.
B: This kind of music should feel like it’s going to fall apart, whereas this sounds very comfortable… 4.
The Cult – The Wolf (Cooking Vinyl, 6 Aug)
B: Oh shit, I’m so excited to hear this!
[The track starts and their grins get wider]
A: Well, it’s doing what they do best…
[Suddenly, the smiles disappear]
A: Wow, this took a turn.
B: Yeah, that went very wrong at about 45 seconds… very, very wrong. I give the first 45 seconds 9 out of 10, but the rest is disqualified. I like that they’re bringing the cowbell back though, there’s some extra credit for that.
Garbage – Big Bright World (STUNVOLUME, 6 Aug)
B: Not that they were ever particularly intellectual, but I feel like this song is extra lobotomised. I’m not saying they were ever like Yes or something, but Jesus… What I don’t like about it comes from the extreme respect I have for them. Does that cushion it at all?
The Skinny: Depends on the score you give…
A: Oh brother… ouch. It’s hard because I really like her. 5?
B: I’ll say 6, just because it’s Shirley Manson and she’s cool.
Toddla T & Shola Ama – Alive (Ninja Tune, 13 Aug)
A: I love her vocals.
B: I’ve already forgotten what the chorus goes like though – that’s not a good sign for a pop song. Great singer though, Toddla.
The Skinny: Shola’s the singer…
B: Shit, Shola, Shola… So who’s Toddla? [laughing] What the fuck kind of name is Toddla?! Who would call themselves that?
A: I’d give this 4.
B: That’s generous, but Shola seems cool. She’s singing her ass off…
The Heavy – What Makes A Good Man? (Ninja Tune, 13 Aug)
B: Is this sixties soul thing big right now or something?
The Skinny: This is soundtracking a Miller ad campaign in the States, apparently...
B: Oh, this song is made for a beer commercial. It’s junk food.
A: It seems like they know they’re making junk food too, you know? It’s very marketable.
B: I give them props for that, because that’s smart – they’re going to make a lot of money if they’re halfway intelligent, but… er… the other 98% of me just thinks this is fucking vile [laughs]. Sorry. 10 out of 10 for marketability. The rest is disqualified for being completely horrible.
Tamara Schlesinger – Again (Tantrum Records, 6 Aug)
B: There’s that sixties sound again – what’s going on around here?
A: This is good – the fact that she can keep a song this interesting with just what she’s using is pretty awesome. I’d be really curious to pick her brain – I think it would be fun in there.
B: It needed a bridge, though.
A: I didn’t feel it was lacking anything, I think it was really good.
B: But that’s the single – if you put out a single, I think you’ve got to respect the form…
A: I don’t agree, this is good the way it is – 8.
B: Yeah, I’d have probably fucked her song up. Don’t listen to me, Tamara, you’re good.
FaltyDL – Hardcourage (Ninjatune, 20 Aug)
A: This bassline reminds me a lot of, like, 96-ish jungle, but it kinda just makes me want to listen to that instead. [Benjamin skips the track forward a minute]. Oh, this is throwing out all the tricks.
B: Yeah, but for a dance single it’s understated in a way that’s kind of unfortunate.
A: I wouldn’t really hear that in a club – it sounds like something you'd hear at a restaurant or hotel.
B: Yeah it’s kind of a hotel lobby jam. I’m sure FaltyDL is a great fellow, but I’m hoping Hardcourage is not his best – 5.
Caned and Able – I’ve Got You Now (PSB Music, 27 Aug)
B: Oh man, have you seen what they’re called? I’m so mad at that name. [Alejandra reads and visibly cringes]
B [in response to the chorus]: He does not have me yet…
Skinny: Well he’s running out of time…
B: Oh shit, this song’s almost over! You gotta be fu… See, what colours my judgement is, you’re not just playing us some random song: this is the fucking single, this is their best song right now. So you can’t just think, 'oh well, maybe I’ll like another' – this should be the best one. Then again, that’s not really fair 'cause most of my favourite songs weren’t singles, so maybe… I just think they should have worked a bit harder on that.
A: Yeah, it was premature to end it there. I’d give it an ‘incomplete’.
Eugene McGuinness – Harlequinade (Domino, 6 Aug)
A: This is very mild.
B: Medium spicy at most. It sounds like Robert Palmer.
A: I don’t want to give this a low score, because there’s a lot of work and some good ideas in there.
B: But it’s hard to give anyone a good score when you can hear Portishead playing on the PA next door… If Portishead is a 10, what’s this?
A: Oh man… No, that’s too hard! That’s not fair to anybody! Ok, 5. I was going to go higher, but you put Portishead in the mix.
B: He’s just a victim of circumstance…
Mina Tindle – Bells (Believe, 20 Aug)
A: She has a really soulful voice, you can tell that she’s feeling it.
B: It’s a bit too cute though.
A: I don’t know, there’s something in her voice that’s really sad. She sounds like she sings with her whole body. Can we rate her, rather than the song?
B: Yeah, we give Mina a 9, and if you were gauging cuteness, it’s extremely cute.
A: On the cute scale, definitely 10, but for the song, 5, because a good idea is worth a lot, and that was a good idea.
Single of the Month: Lower Dens – Candy (Ribbon, 13 Aug)
A: I like her voice a lot – it’s a like an exact mix of Siouxie and T-Rex.
B: Man, that guitar player is getting himself some…
A: It’s really moody – it sort of reminds me of that opening scene in Mulholland Drive, where all you see is the pavement, and it’s really dark and the car’s driving along... This is spooky.
B: Yeah, it has a really good vibe. A solid 8.