Single Reviews: August 2002


Atomic Kitten - The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling) (Virgin)

No relation, beeehave! The self confessed scouse slappers return with a cover of Blondie's classic 1980 number one. So does it make us whole again?

T: You remember those old seaside specials with someone like Max Bygraves or Bruce Forsythe in the seventies? And then at some point, you would get a dance troupe performing a godawful routine to a cheesy version of a song by some desperate wannabe that ended up playing one off shows at the old Duck and Trumpet in Skegness? That's what this reminds me of.

N: The collection of thoughts that come to my mind are - I wonder whether they had a video screen when singing along to this, because this is definitely "instant karaoke", and I certainly think they missed the boat. Why the hell is the tide high? Surely covering the Sex Pistols "God Save The Queen" would have been more apt, and that's a number I would have liked to have seen. Maybe they would have gobbed at their audience...

T: Having witnessed Mel C's version of "Anarchy In The UK", I'm not convinced on that one. Have you got a tin of paint that I can watch while this record finishes please?

N: This is thoroughly dreadful, but in a chart climate void of artistic integrity and real creativity, I can't say I'm surprised. They've completely missed the point. I suspect they've not even listened to the original - just been given a song sheet and a backing track with which to sing along to, and told to pout and look pretty. 1/10



Coldplay - In My Place (Parlophone)

Seems a long time since we heard of Mr.Martin and co, and the phenomenally successful "Parachutes" album. Time for a new direction perhaps?

T: Or perhaps not. Whilst this is nice enough and ambles along prettily, it's not going to set any pulses racing. I quite like it, but it's nothing you wouldn't have expected.

N: Although Chris Martin may not be able to change his distinctive vocal style easily, this is familiar, although with the generic drum pattern from at least 25 or so years ago, this could be considered more than recognisable. Pleasant enough, and after all it is Coldplay, so there has to be considered a certain kudos that goes along with this, but really possesses nothing more to set it apart from their former single releases.

T: Whatever happened to bands whose second album release was totally different to their first? I know the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" rings true to some extent, but personally I think the one business that fails to agree with is the music industry. So, all in all, this is just a nice, safe Coldplay single.

N: Maybe we should reserve our judgments until the release of their albumn on August 26th. 7/10



Reuben - Stux (Boss Music)

This is the fresh faced rock trio's second single, following their much acclaimed debut "Scared Of The Police". Time to go under the AD microscope.

N: Reuben come across as a machine who epitomise the independent ethos. This is hard edged rock, possessing shades of Soundgarden and more besides. And from a group whose mean ages are nineteen, this is an impressive continuation.

T: Now, I don't intend to be mean here, but they remind me of this scenario: Reading Festival, a band who gets a main stage billing, but at 12:30 in the afternoon while everybody else is queuing for the bogs, picking mud from their toenails or wiping the previous night's puke from their boots. There is a throng of about 200 people wandering aimlessly around the area directly in front of the stage, except for about 20 loyal fans who are moshing (as well as they can) right at the front and mouthing every word. The band have some fairly good tunes, but, regardless of the enthusiasm of the majority of the music press, I doubt very much whether they'll be progreesing to any greater heights than this.

N: A hush has descended as a ghost in the machine has been woken from the circuitry of the office hi-fi. What you say may well prove to be the truth, but having seen many a predecessor tread exactly the same route, only to be found behind the counter of the local bank 5 years later, surely it is lads suchh as Reuben who will continue the battle against all that is overly commercial in the industry today.

T: A valid point, but I personally feel that there are other bands out there doing similar stuff to better effect - one of which happens to be our featured local band in Spotlight this month - My Awesome Compilation. 6/10



Miss Black America - Miss Black America (Integrity)

Quoted recently by the NME as "the best band in the fucking world", this eponymous single is, oddly enough, the third release from the band's forthcoming album "God Bless Miss Black America". Do we get a similar impression?

T: Does this sound incredibly like a young Joe Strummer to you?

N: Fair point, along with the political content of vocalist Seymour's lyrics, this could well be our young Mr.Strummer in the making.

T: Given its obviously commercial emo feel, I can see this heading chartwards very soon in much the same way as Jimmy Eat World, who, now I think about it, they remind me of very much. Great single though.

N: I look forward to the band's soon to be released debut album, and hope we will hear a lot more of them besides. 8/10



David Guetta - Love, Don't Let Me Go (Virgin)

T: I don't know what you think about this track, but having heard the vocal, it makes me want to club the bloke on the head with a machete, Brian Harvey style.

N: We'll call that "murder one" then shall we? All I can see is a woman with an adam's apple standing in front of six guys, dressed in US forces uniforms two sizes too small. This is gonna be big on the gay club circuit.

T: And probably in all the other clubs too. It's like an amalgamation of all your worst ever nights out, coupled with your greasiest kebabs, and the roughest hangovers of all time. 3/10



SonicAnimation - I'm a DJ (Doublethink)

This Australian band have scored several Record Industry Association awards in their native land, two dance music ones, and were voted into Australia's Youth Radio Network Hottest 100. Time to find out why...

T: Best lyric of the year - "I'm a DJ...and my head is up my ass". Pure class.

N: "If the record's not from Germany, then it must be shit" - another gem amongst a host of many others that grace the lyrics here. A box of credible mixes here that will hopefully be taken tongue in cheek by the primary user.

T: I think there's a certain amount of irony here, in that the people I believe most likely to embrace this record are the very ones that SonicAnimation are tearing apart. An irony of almost Tarantino proportions, and very funny it will be to witness too!

N: Like these people (DJs) don't have a sense of humour too?

T: Yeah? This track is a perfect assessment of the ingredients of a 21st century DJ! 8/10

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M.A.S.S. - Hey Gravity (Radiate)

This is the debut release from M.A.S.S. and already has earned respect from Jo Whiley and Steve Lamacq. Here's what we thought.

T: It would appear that the White Stripes have kidnapped Daisy Chainsaw and forced them to make a single with them. And the result is very entertaining.

N: The group have certainly written an infectious slice of punk driven rock 'n' roll, with seering guitars and a definite leaning towards the dirty sounds made popular by the likes of Sonic Youth ten years ago.

T: Or The Strokes more recently. I don't think we could have reviewed this single without mentioning The Strokes or the White Stripes. I couldn't anyway. 7/10



Ash - Envy (Infectious)

Soon to be releasing a greatest hits compilation, having made some classics over the years, Ash return with a rocky number to herald the forthcoming "must have" for avid collectors.

T: Having recently rediscovered what it feels like to be about 12 years old again, in that for the first time in about ten years, I have realised I finally have a "favourite band" again. This latest single is a worthy addition to their catalogue. I saw the video to this about two weeks ago on MTV and thought "Wow! What a fantastic track". So I wonder what the editor thinks...

N: Over the ten years Ash have been in existence, I am pleased to say that I can look back on this group and say they have truly grown, never stood still, and their music developed in style and content. "Envy" is sure to be the latest in their long line of successes, and a song that will truly grace their resume.

T: Not really much to add to that, except to ponder just how much longer Ash can continue to do no wrong! 9/10



Lo Fidelity Allstars - Feel What I Feel (Skint)

Having released what was one of the most acclaimed debut albums in years with "How To Operate With A Blown Mind" a few years ago, and then returning to the top 75 with a less convincing minor dent courtesy of "Sleeping Faster", this is the second single from the following album.

T: It's probably a sacrilegious thing to say within the pages of a music magazine, but I have never been over enamoured with Motown music. I feel a little guilty not praising this single - as I have mentioned no end of times to friends, relatives, the milkman and repeated thirty times to the cat, I was once in a band with John Machin (aka The Slammer) from this band, so I don't want to be overly critical as it's fairly innoffensive and really is just a pleasant slice of pop, but not really my bag of biscuits.

N: The familiar loop that graces this title may leave the sole Lo-Fi's fan wondering just where they're going, but being signed to Brighton's Skint Recordings, it is evident the band had a late one at Norman's beach party earlier this year. It's got the funk, but unless you're situated in the obligatory cattleshed, flashing lights nailed to the rafters, this may soon lose its appeal.

T: To be fair though, I think the dance mixes do actually give the track a lot more credibility. And it's just struck me that wht I said about Motown music was bollocks as I thought Marvin Gaye was great. Still, this song is unlikely to make my end of year "best of" compilation. 6/10

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Paul Oakenfold -Starry Eyed Suprise (Perfecto)

You already know who Paul Oakenfold is. Make up your own intro...

N: The man who made the eyewear industry....or was it the other way round? No matter, "Starry Eyed Surprise" is a thumbs up to the business of no collar guys and girls who make music for the masses so fulfilling. Those bug eyed kids who travel out of town each weekend to congregate in a common location and expend fluid in their chosen nightspots. This single and its various reinterpretations is a storm of a "party on a silver tray", that in varying degrees kicks ass, although none more so than its original sibling. Nuff said.

T: It starts off as though it's going to be a cover of Nilsson's "Ev'rybody's talkin'" (or The Beautiful South's, depending which generation you're from), and ends up sounding like a harder edged De La Soul. I'll be honest, it's not one of my favourite tracks, as I find the darker tracks far more appealing. Even so, I would agree that this commercially viable track is worthy of the top 20 chart placing it is likely to achieve. 8/10



DJ Vitamin D feat. Audry - That Latin Track (Loaded)

This was a huge underground club hit last year, as the dance fans amongst our readers will already be aware. Now with its second wind, it has attracted the likes of Tim Deluxe and Cmos, who have been busy remixing the track themselves.

T: It can STAY underground for all I care.

N: I've never been to South America, never had the inclination to visit South America and this music is ultimately repetetive and uninteresting.

T: Indeed it is. We are dance music experts after all. It'll NEVER be a club hit. Oh...erm...hang on a minute... 4/10



Tears In X-Ray Eyes - My Strange Love e.p. (test tube)

A year since the release of their debut album "Half Life", Tears In X-Ray Eyes release 4 new tracks in the form of the "My Strange Love" ep. The brainchild of singer/songwrite/producer/multi-instrumentalist Tim Closs takes lyrical influence from the more poetic artists of yesteryear, such as Morrissey, and the lovelorn musical style has been hailed by papers such as the NME in a remarkably short space of time.

T: It's a refreshing thought when you realise that there is a resurgence of artists at the moment who consider lyrics to be one of the most fundamental parts of good songwriting. Having to put up with the bile that is hyped chartwards such as Liberty X, Westshite, Blue, Nelly et al, it makes listening to artists such as Tears In X-Ray Eyes an even more exhilarating experience.

N: Tim's ethic is one of a singer/songwriter who refuses to be drawn into any idea of a "new movement" of artists of this nature. Not treading water, as he sees many of his contemporaries doing, his DIY approach to the production of his music shines through on this very original of musical offerings.

T: Bugger. I thought we were going to get through an entire issue without using the word "contemporaries" for a change. Nyway, the single gets better and better with each play. 9/10

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Grandadbob - Let's Sick On The Decks (Southern Fried Records)

The first single from GrandadBob hits the stores on 15th July...

T: Probably the best title of the bunch, but also the only the only one to have succeeded in giving me a banging headache. Thanks a bunch then.

J: I'm sure there is more to say about Mexico than repeating it continuously for the whole time a girl sits in the loo.

T: Erm...they don't actually mention Mexico at all...

J: Well I'm convinced that they did! Tell them that they need to learn how to speak correctly.

N: I'm sure in the right environment, you would already have a headache, be popping enough pills to drop a horse, and so far gone you wouldn't care anyway.

T: In the right environment? I've never popped pills or had headaches at the rubbish tip... 4/10


The Shining - Young Again (Zuma Recordings)

This is the third single from the band's forthcoming debut album "True Skies". For anyone who doesn't know, two of the band members, Simon Jones and Simon Tong, were once part of the Verve. This one was produced by Youth and mixed by Tim Rothrock. Some fair credentials there I'm sure you'll agree.

T: Sounds like The Charlatans would if Neil Young was the frontman.

N: All that and shades of our last conversation, "guys" trying to recapture youth past, maybe that was the reason for choosing the producer they've worked with here. But really not that strong a single. It could've been in the hope that Youth would have made slightly more of it.

N: I would concur, but I don't think it's a bad single. Just nowhere near as strong as the last two, that's all - particularly "Quicksilver". 5/10


Medicine8 - Capital Rocka (Regal)

After some confusion and record industry red tape, Medicine return as Medidine8 to release their first single proper (for the group's original namesakes see those artists featured on Brandon Lee's ill fated movie 'The Crow'). But what of this act, how is our panel going to take to them?

N: With more than an air of New Order's Blue Monday and retro night at the local night club, the guys of Medicine 8 have certainly made a cracking tune, if not practiced a little plagiarism and you?

T: Seeing as I just managed to sing the words to the first couple of verses of the monster single you refer to over the top, it would be hard to disagree with that sentiment. However, the track does little to stimulate me I'm afraid. The sort of thing I would put on and think "Yes. It's quite good", but then would sit there on my CD rack for years and years until I decided to make a compilation album by way of rolling my dice and it gets selected randomly.

N: Any group who were to stumble across the mother of all twelve inches were sure to hit stormy waters. A happy enough use of the original tune, but where are the lyrics? Or perhaps this would be too much like sacrilege. What this will hopefully do is create interest in the group, when next time they release something truly original. Not a complete waste of time though. Friendly enough to the ears. 6/10


Longwave - Pool Song (East West)

New York four piece, formerly to be found supporting The Strokes earlier this year will return to the UK in August to perform a number of UK festivals. Hopefully by this point, the group will have found a number of fans to discover this single, to be released on September 2nd.

T: The overriding factor here for me is of The Smiths.

N: That's no bad thing in this market.

T: No it's a very good thing. They actually sound like a mixture of Mozzer and co and the band they recently toured with that we mentioned in the introduction. Although not for the first time when we've been reviewing singles within these pages, the second track "Only Just Hang On" squeezes the knackers off "Pool Song" in my opinion.

N: In contrast to the current wave of college rock bands coming from "t'other side of pond", this group extol a far less "happy go lucky" sound, even on the apparent sunshine pop of the a-side. But I would tend to agree with you. The second track here possesses a far more grown up quality that I would feel will stand the test of time over the lead.

T: So I think it would be fair to say you can add a point on to what we give the a-side to see what we think of its superior second track! 7/10


Way Out West ft Kirsty Hawkshaw - Stealth (Instinctive Breaks)

In marked contrast to many of the reviews featured here this time, "Stealth" is a club contender brought to us from the hearts and minds of the WOW team Nick Warren and Jody Wisternoff. Taken from the group's album "Intensify", this one features the voice and no doubt thoughts of Kirsty Hawkshaw. With the effects of global warming apparently taking their toll on our climate, this might indeed be in fine time for summer and features over 50 minutes of madness & mayhem, in the form of mixes by Pablo la Rosa and DJ Rennie Pilgrim.

T: One of those tracks that takes me away to a magical faraway land - it's normally deserted but for a landscape of pretty ice tipped mountains and utter silence. The whole thing generally seems to be underwater and quite a few fish appear to inhabit the place too. Only problem is it's bloody cold there, but in a refreshing kind of way. In fact, it's the very same place that Air's "All I Need" takes me to. I've visited my fantasyland a number of times over the years, though it's difficult to come by as a package holiday. Or maybe I should stop smoking the cat's furballs.

N: And there's no doubt about how much I rate these artists' work, and their choice of the partners they work with on their songs. This is no exception. Kirsty's breathy presentation creates a chilled out "pool" of sound into which the listener is encouraged to immerse themselves. Way Out West produced some fine moments that graced their first full length offering. Second time around, it is apparent that it's no different with an album that will grow with each visit. "Stealth" and its presentations should not just be in time for a fine night out, but become the perfect take-out too. 7/10


Schneider TM - Frogtoise (City Slang Records)

Inspired by a dream in which Schneider himself dreamt that he had surgically spliced together a frog and a turtle(!), he personally described this single memorably as "post-Timbaland". Having been touted as an artist not a million miles from a more avant garde Pet Shop Boys, this track is released on september 2nd.

T: As though all of your favourite apparitions have somehow mutated themselves into one, this is a lovely dreamy single that puts me in mind of Paddy McAloon's Prefab Sprout in one of their most inspired eras.

N: I can see that, but also that of the group you last spoke of, that was Air's "Moon Safari". But one cautionary word of advice, be wary of what the person next to you is passing - his lyrics might just blow a circuit. 8/10


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