Single Reviews: January 2004

 

The*Ga*Ga*s - Sex (Sanctuary)

Hailed as "the gardians of UK rock-n'roll" this band release a single full of power-chord driven testosterone that screams "look at me - I've got something to say!" I've heard a number of other bands who are producing this kind of fueled rock music and this certainly has the ability to make itself noticed. Intelligently written lyrics that when you drag yourself away from the canvas that is the music, are cetainly worth taking note of.

The words to 'Sex' are fairly straight forward (well what else can you say that hasn't already been said on this subject), but there was a line on 'Exit Lights', the B-side here that shot out quite literally and that was "I'm a needle in the arm of heaven", an image I do sense has never been done before. Although on the subject of vocalist Tommy's presentation, I feel it did tend to lack something that came through more-so in the push offered by guitarist Rob's power presentation, maybe this is something that experience will teach. But I do hate it when an error in whichever form it comes leaps out and in this case it appeared to be maybe an error in mastering or recording of track-2, where between 2'54" and 2'55" it almost seems that the guitar's where sampled and the general forward direction decides to take a detour.

But apart from these citisisms, The G-G's are certainly worth taking a listen to and I can't wait to hear their forthcoming album, 'Tonight The Midway Shines', a product that is currently sitting on my desk, so it's fair to say that this won't be a long time in coming. 8/10

Nick James

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Hal – What a Lovely Dance (Rough Trade)

I’d probably really like this band if the lead singer didn’t sound so much like my mate Ashley. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – he’s got a tremendous voice, but what rankles me is that the aforementioned Mr.Mason (who featured in such prominent Leicester bands as Finally, The Chief and Grace) wrote tunes to put Hal to shame.
Again that’s not meant as a put down, but Mason’s song were just so painstakingly beautiful at times that it kind of irks me that he never really made it on the music scene, and Hal look as though they may well do so.
Ahead of his time? Maybe.
I suppose I really ought to put that to the back of my mind to review this (I have a similar problem with Hope of the States) so I’ll just say this is a fairly effective “lighter waving” tune that will undoubtedly further increase the band’s steadily growing fanbase. 7/10

Tone E

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Hanson – Penny & Me (Cooking Vinyl)

I was fully expecting to hate this, but hang on a minute, it’s not actually too bad at all!

For a teenybop band to make the transition to a relatively convincing “rock” outfit is generally a no go. We all remember efforts by the likes of Matt Goss and Gary Barlow with contempt, so you’d have thought it would follow that this would be…well…shit. But it isn’t.

Ok, some people would label this as Hootie and the Blowfish style claptrap but it does appear to have a lot more depth to it than that, and (I feel dirty saying this) I actually quite like it.

I am loathe to call this a more “mature” work as that just sounds so pompous, but if I had to say one thing about it to convince you of its merits, let’s just say that if you despised “Mmm Bop” and had to turn the radio off when it came on, you wouldn’t feel forced to do the same here. There is no annoying quirkiness – just a strong hook and impressive musicianship. Then again, I didn’t mind “Mmm Bop”… 7/10

Tone E

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Athlete – Wires (Parlophone)

Thankfully, vocalist Joel Pott seems to have stopped sounding like the imperial wizard’s doppelganger and started developing more of his own sound. The only problem now is that Athlete are starting to sound like Coldplay. I can think of far worse outfits to base your songwriting on admittedly, but the fact is that this just sounds like “Sparks” from the latter band’s debut album.

I imagine this’ll probably go top ten at least, but until Athlete can strike a happy medium between the glorious melody of “Vehicles and Animals” title track and Pott’s own vocal style, I will remain unconvinced.

Still, there’s no denying that this is a nice enough foot tapper. 7/10

Tone E

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The Kinison – You’ll Never Guess Who’s Died (Atlantic)

Well, The Kinison have done something that most bands recently have failed to do, and released the best track on their album as a single! At least, I thought it was the best one anyway!

With a strong undercurrent of At the Drive In and Funeral For a Friend, this marvellously infectious number gets under your skin and somehow maintains enough “pop” elements to make it as accessible as a recent Green Day single.

This Illinois five piece have definitely got the right ingredients to become one of the great heavyweights of the alt-rock scene. 9/10

Tone E

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Iron Maiden - The Number Of The Beast (EMI)

Following the incredible resurgence in interest in this band, from their label at least - well 25 years is not a bad anniversay to celebrate, comes the Maiden track that certainly marks a period in my childhood years. 'Number Of The Beast' was initially released in 1982 and this dark anthem that was lead by the most memorable line; "6-6-6, the number of the beast..." bears a cover that features, not surprisingly 'Eddie', the bands, is mascot the word? Or should it be, dark demon who will accompany the guys into the depths of hell come judgement day?

As with every Iron Maiden release, this re-created artwork is slick and has an 'air' of the corporate about it, but what of the music. Well I'm sure even if you weren't there at the beginning, then this tune will be somewhat familiar - as I'm certain that the process of evolution will have ensured that even a vague recolection will have been included in the dna of every child born since this singles release.

Joking aside, Bruce Dickinson (now 6-music DJ) is accompanied by 3 guitarists, which perhaps will go to explain the slick 'fretboard' presentation that will meet the ear and unrelenting pace of this track, which never for a moment falls vacant of something to say. The band still have the ability to sell out dates at arenas and stadiums, not village halls or sports centres!

Maiden, love 'em or loathe 'em, these guys have earn't their place in the history books. 9/10

Nick James

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