Indie Girl & Pop Boy

We Need A Little Edge With Our Electro Pop

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The REAL Best Of The Nineties.

People always bang on about how Oasis and Blur were the best Britpop bands to come out of the nineties. But, as most of us know, that is bollocks. Here is my small list of bands of the nineties that I like more than Blur and a hell of a lot more than Oasis.

Some say that Pulp were third in the race for Britpop domination, I believe that they are not appreciated as much as they should be, or as they should be. Jarvis and the gang did not only produce catchy tunes that would dance around your head for a few weeks after your trip to the indie disco, the lyrics had something. The difference between Pulp and your average indie tribe is that Mr Cocker thoughts about the lyrics, and in fact based a hell of a lot of the songs on things that had happened to him. Disco 2000 being about a girl that he fancied at school but had no chance with, Common People about a well-off girl that he met in art college, who had been conned by the glamourisation of working class culture into wanting to be a bit rough and poor like everyone else etc.. etc.

Of course those are only the singles that people always say are Pulp's best. They arguably are, though really... they are just the most popular.

I say that people watch the equally danceable Razzmatazz , the spine tingling Do You Remember The First Time? , and the epic This Is Hardcore (even if just to play "Spot Lolly!" Yes, THE Lolly. She actually acts in this video.)

See, I don't know a hell of a lot about Suede, but what I do know is that people often seem to neglect them when making a little list of Britpop folk. Well, I won't. Suede produce great British glam for us all to flail and jig about to. I recently rediscovered Suede by buying a compilation I used to have on tape back in '96 and used to love... without knowing who any of the bands were. Turns out one of them was Suede, and the song was Trash. Brett Anderson's vocals kind of, shoot right through you, listening to this song, and yet you can't help but find yourself bobbing your head and lip syncing to the chorus, perhaps even having a bit of a dance.

I don't really like them as much as Pulp mind, but the songs are worth checking out. Even if you do have to watch the video, which are also a bit crap. Here's Trash.

Rediscovered from the same Smash Hits compilation album, Dubstar are great. Well, not really, I found one track from their later album which I liked called I'm Conscious Of Myself which really doesn't sound like proper Dubstar at all. So when I was listening to that compilation, I was wondering what that haunting song with the women's vocals was, it was Dubstar's Stars. It seems that Dubstar are better when they sound like Saint Etienne, who people say are better but I don't know, because i've never really listened to them.

Anyway, Stars was in absolutely no doubt, Dubstar's best song. Strangely enough, Stars didn't do particularly well despite lots of promotion, and instead they had a bigger break with the inferior (in my opinion) Not So Manic Now.

Please have a glance at Stars and try to look up the rather good Anywhere which kind of sounds like Ace Of Base, but doesn't... if you get my meaning.

And finally:
I've known about Kenickie for a while now, but unlike all the bands I have mentioned previously, they completely passed me by back in the 90s when I was all 5ive and 911. I decided to check out Kenickie the minute I heard that the FABULOUS Lauren Laverne had been in a band. They were either Proper party-going, working class lyrics over crunchy guitars, in the case of album At The Club or calmed-down Summer pop fun which featured heavily on their second album Get In.

I find it very sad that the band have now split up completely and none of the band will talk to Lauren anymore. But have a bask in the glory of Kenickie by watching the video for In Your Car , a good example of first album Kenickie, and I Would Fix You which is an example of Kenickie from the second album.

And if you like those (or don't), check out the video for the Summer classic that never was, Don't Falter, by Mint Royale and Lauren Laverne.

Whose idea was it to release it in January? Pah!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Pop Boy Meets Girls Aloud

Girls Aloud have released a greatest hits album. My fingers have been itching since ‘Something Kinda Oooh!’ first blasted on the radio. So why have I held on for so long? That’s because I didn’t get the album until today and whereas I don’t mind downloading albums from rubbish/unimportant people, but when it comes to Girls Aloud I’d gladly spend my few student pennies. They are worth it.

Today they were particularly worth splashing out £16.95 on in HMV for the special edition version at 9am because it meant that, after a three hour wait, I got to meet the girls! I realise this makes me a total fanboy, and a little bit sad, but I must remind you, this isn’t Clea, it isn’t Lisa Scott-Lee, it’s Girls Aloud, the single most important thing to happen to British music and punk since the dawn of time. There, I said it.

The girls were lovely, but weren’t taking pictures; however, after I sweet talked Nicola I managed to worm a special one out of her which needs to be kept under wraps. I told her she was my favourite, at which point Nadine said, “you said that to me!” and the girls squabbled for my affections. I didn’t say Nadine was my favourite, I told her that the cover art was crap. She tutted and nodded. You heard it here first and all that.

Kimberley and Cheryl were ace too, and as I explained the three hour wait to them a security guard tried to usher me away. Cheryl then said “Oi! He’s talking to us!” and then said bye properly to me.

Sarah was wearing lots of make up. She was nice. But she’s just Sarah. There’s nothing wrong with that, she’s just not Nicola, Cheryl, Kimberley or Nadine and therefore, not as ace.

To the passing reader this may seem trivial, and going to a band signing (particularly one for a girlband) may be extremely immature and cliché ghey (true enough I was the oldest person there who wasn’t an escort/minder and the only guy on his own – that I could see), but for me this is everything. I mean, I touched Nicola for crying out loud, talk about something kinda ooooh!

The Greatest Hits is, by it’s definition, nothing I haven’t heard before. And yes, in the age of iTunes and CD-Rs, greatest hits are extremely unnecessary. But this greatest hits isn’t just that, it’s the sound of pop music evolving at a rate that would have Darwin shitting himself. All it needs now is poseable thumbs and it shall inherit the earth.

The album features never before heard songs, ‘Money’ and ‘Singapore’, the latter of which was needlessly dropped off the Chemistry album and could possibly be one of the Girls’ finest moments, and the Girl’s takes on Tiffany’s ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’, which will be the next single apparently, Blondie’s ‘Hanging On The Telephone’, Kaiser Chief’s ‘I Predict A Riot’, a highlight of the recent tour, and, with a cruel tongue in cheek, The Beegee’s ‘Sacred Trust’, which was covered by their Colon Rivals ‘opponents’ One True Voice. All in all seven out of the twenty songs are covers. Is this a problem? No, and why? Because each of the covers equals if not betters the original.

In a drought of innovation and fun, with artists preferring acoustic guitars or simpleton basslines to rhythm and vibrancy, Girls Aloud have been left to fly the flag for pop single-handedly. In an industry where it’s do-or-die and sales mean everything, Girls Aloud have racked up thirteen consecutive top ten singles, more than any other girlband in the history of pop and have had sales and success that most acts can only dream of, pop, indie or otherwise. They’ve outlived not only their contemporaries but also their own genre with reality TV, Top of the Pops and Smash Hits! – staples of the pop music scene they were flung into.

Will Girls Aloud split Steps-stylee after this album? Who knows? And to be honest, who cares? I’d rather they went out unanimously now they were on top than be forced out two years down the line and fade into the background. They make music better than anyone, so I don’t want them to quit, but if they did they’d leave such a legacy behind them that it’d be hard to hold anything against them.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Long Blondes Live Review

[Lust In the Movies/Weekend Without Make Up/Madame Ray/In The Company Of Women/Fulwood Babylon/Giddy Stratospheres/Only Lovers Left Alive/You Could Have Both/Appropriation (By Any Other Name)/Once & Never Again/5 Ways To Heaven/Separated By Motorways]

Let’s not beat around the bush, The Long Blondes are one of the most exciting to happen to music in a long time. Yes, the Pipettes have the style, and yes, the Fratellis have the swagger, but the Long Blondes have both the style and swagger, in abundance. And then some.

Cool enough to be devoured by the indie population, fun enough to be pop and clever enough to last, Long Blondes’ sensational album ‘Someone To Drive You Home’ is timeless. Not in the Pipettes/Fratellis heavily influenced, mish-mash way, but in the fact that it could easily have been enjoyed five years ago, and may still be enjoyed fifteen years from now. The album dips into every genre and period of rock and roll so subtley and so effectively that you almost don’t even notice it.

One thing you do notice is Kate Jackson, who brings the front woman back to the fore, in an indie environment majoritively filled with Y chromosomes. Kate provides both the style, dressed coolly but not showy, making an effort, but not too much, and the swagger, delivering empowering, man-hating anthems for the indie generations and flipping between empathy and blood-spitting rage faster than it was physically thought possible. Without Kate the Long Blondes would be like any other good indie band, nice, catchy songs but no staying power. With Kate the band is transformed into a world-beating non-stop indie dance machine.

The point is, eventually, that I went back home to the West Midlands on Saturday (thus missing Girls Aloud at G-A-Y – dammit!) to see Kate and co. perform at the Birmingham Academy and despite being contained in the smallest room in the building, they raised the roof and rocked the house. The crowd was not, as I’d expected, full of teeny-boppers attending their first gig but instead a lot of ‘too-cool-to-dance’ older fans. This didn’t kill the fun factor though, as the crowd was still electric, and submitting to Kate’s every wish. Quite simply, everyone was too busy enjoying the show to dance and spill beer over people.

Kate’s voice is much better than I’d expected. Perhaps it’s the ‘atmosphere’ that adds to it, but she sounded ten times better live than she does on record. Her voice is stronger, her Sheffield accent strengthened and weirdly sounds much less strained than it does on record.

‘Giddy Stratospheres’, in particular, comes into a league of its own live. The song is somewhat let down by the verses, but the chorus comes alive, literally when it’s spat in your face turning it from one of the lesser album tracks to a potential 2007 festival favourite.

But, from the reaction to ‘You Could Have Both’ and ‘Once And Never Again’, the Long Blondes needn’t pull out any kind of magic tricks in order to win the crowd over. Kate has us all bopping in the palm of her hand.

The Long Blondes put on a top show, promoting their album, which I think you should all play at Hallowe’en/Guy Fawkes’/Thanksgiving/Hanukah/Christmas parties/shindigs/box-socials as it will set any mood you want, it’s open to interpretation. They finished their set with the meteoric ‘Separated By Motorways’ (made particularly poignant as me and my friends ARE) which had the atmospheric effect of setting of fireworks on stage and handing out sparklers. They were dazzling, they were shit-hot.

Easily one of 2007’s big live bands, not be missed. And who knows, maybe ‘Christmas Is Cancelled’ will get the release it so thoroughly deserves. Here’s hoping. It’s my Christmas Number One. And we’re only just into November.