Shena

shena

In dance music, female vocalists rarely get name-checked, never mind seen in a scantily clad video. We’ve been dancing to songs like Michael Gray’s ‘The Weekend’ and Alex Gaudino’s ‘Watch Out’ for years but have we ever heard of the vocalist, Shena?

A session singer originally, last week Shena released her new single ‘Can’t Stop The Rain’ and although it didn’t do big things, it must surely have tickled the ears of Hed Kandi or Ministry’s A&R people. Sounding like the closest thing to Chic, particularly I Want Your Love, in many a year, it’s full of funky horns, a hip shimmering bassline and Nile Rodgers’ bells. Radio 2 have been playing it on their B-list but I’d love it to pick up somewhere else in the future.

Paul Lester says it better.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxIiAklZ13U[/youtube]

Review: Blok Busta, New Players Theatre

blokbusta2

Wandering into a London theatre to be confronted by only 14 other people two minutes before curtain call is always a worrying sign. Maybe it’s a hidden gem, we thought to ourselves. Warning: it is not a hidden gem.

‘Blok Busta’ is a brand new musical from TV scriptwriter and record producer Mike Bennett. Inspired by the glam music of the 70s, it tells the tale of a group of friends in the town of Glamsville who are terrorised by the serial killer Busta. His weapon? The power of disco music and a sprinkling of corn flakes (we have no idea). Aiming to be a farcical who-dunnit, the jokes come fast but more often than not create groans rather than laughs. Indeed the whole plot muddles its way from murder through schizophrenia, misogyny, threesomes before an overly intense and nonsensical ending.

Mixing actual glam hits such as Devilgate Drive, Ballroom Blitz and The Jean Genie with new compositions will go some way to satisfy a child of the day but few of the new songs excite. Al Howell’s sweet duet with Delilah, ‘Disco Dispair’, is a rare highlight as is the later power pop of Kandy Girl’s complete with dance routine and lesbian kiss.

In fact, it is only the lively nature of the young cast, who play all their own instruments, that manage to keep us in our seats for the duration. Ignoring a distracting performance from Susannah van den Berg as Tiger Feet and a whopper of a bad note from Mikey O’Connor’s Inspector Stone, the real delight is newcomer Clare Kinson who takes on the duel roles of perky teenager Delilah and saucy policewoman Jean Jeanie. One to keep an eye on.

Blok Busta continues at the New Players Theatre, Villiers Street until April 18 with tickets at £20.

Rochelle

rochelle

When London band Rochelle released their first single ‘Fer De Lance’ on Kitsune Records last year they were exactly the type of band you could imagine getting remixed and being played by bloggy people at little dance nights in East London. It was glitchy goodness, with a touch of the overstyling, but didn’t have that big hook that might interest anyone out of E2. Now they’re back for 2009 and pushed the pop fader up a little bit, resulting in the much more accessible ‘Chin Up’.

First things first though, Rochelle are a band – not some shiny electro diva. Lydia is the name of the Amy Winehouse look-a-like and if I were her manager I might be suggesting a bit of a hair colour change to stop any ridiculous confusion. She’s even managed to rock a key-tar in this Klaxons-y video months before Little Boots is allowed to waggle hers about in a video. ‘Chin Up’ is out in April and they’re playing live at Yo-Yo on Thursday night. Of course you will all be at Miss-Shapes instead.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E6Q71avbtc[/youtube]

Can anyone figure out what the ‘one for sorrow, two for joy…’ bit of the verse sounds just like?

Review: Metro Station – Metro Station

metrostation

If Billy Ray is your Dad, Miley your little sister, and you want to have a career in rock music, you’d have to come up with something pretty amazing to be taken seriously. Latest Cyrus on the block, Trace might be trying to do just that as part of Metro Station, but their debut album leaves us feeling distinctly underwhelmed.

Originally released in the US back in 2007, it’s taken two whole years for the Metro Station sound to hit our shores. In that time similar sounding but much better bands like Shiny Toy Guns, The Answering Machine and Stefy all failed to make any impact at all over here. So what is it about Metro Station that makes them different?

Their first UK single ‘Control’ might have fizzled by without anyone noticing but it’s the 2nd, ‘Shake It’, that’s made us sit up and pay attention. Powered by a huge sing-a-long chorus that would have any dancefloor stomping and chanting along to. It’s a power pop, almost Disney, version of the darker emo sounds offered by labelmates Fall Out Boy. Similarly the gloomier ‘Wish We Were Older’ has a brilliantly goofy ‘Woah-e-o-e-o’ hands in the air chorus. The problem with both these songs and perhaps the rest of the album is that they seem to be built entirely to support the chorus with the verses being utterly unmemorable. Indeed songs like the twinkly ‘California’ and dreary ‘True To Me’ easily merge into the background.

Utterly harmless, Metro Station have shown they have the potential to write a killer hook. Their debut album is just not the showcase for that talent we were hoping for.

Review: Ronan Keating – Songs For My Mother

ronan

Ahead of Mother’s Day each year albums designed to appeal to your mum trot out in stores around the country. As well as dabbling with a Boyzone reunion, 2009 is the year for Ronan Keating to make his mainstream comeback starting with a release of ‘Songs For My Mother’.

This, his fifth studio album, is a collection of covers recorded by Ronan with a live orchestra. It’s no rapidly chosen covers album though; instead it’s a group of songs Ronan remembers his mother, who he lost to cancer at the height of his success in 1998, listening to throughout his childhood.

Covering songs as cherished as Don McClean’s ‘Vincent’ and Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’ is always going to aggravate fans of the original but on the whole, Ronan manages to create careful versions filled to the brink with emotion. Bob Dylan’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’ crackles with tears, popular Celtic folk songs such as ‘Carrickfergus’ and ‘The Wild Mountain Thyme’ are tender and the orchestral arrangement of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’ adds an extra layer of euphoria coupled with the sadness of the lyrics.

Only a cold heart could refuse to be moved by the gentle ‘Mama’s Arms’. Originally performed by American singer-songwriter Joshua Kadison, the heart tugging lyrics must have been hard to Ronan to sing, his voice cracking on the beautiful line ‘all you want is mama’s arms’. The mood is only ruined somewhat by the suddenly jolly ‘Suspicious Minds’ and echo-heavy cheese fest cover of R Kelly’s ‘I Believe I Can Fly’.

It would be easy to thrown scorn on ‘Songs For My Mother’ but instead it’s a sweet, and surprisingly enjoyable compilation of gorgeous songs. Perfect to show your mother how much you care.

Originally for Orange Music

The Veronicas Hit The UK!

Over three years ago I wrote about a brilliant pop band called The Veronicas. I’d found them via an mp3 blog, was working in social media at the time, and loved the way they were being marketed.

Amazingly they are now being brought over to have a crack at UK success. Although the Max Martin penned 4eva from their debut album remains the standout song for me, it’s their 2nd album ‘Hook Me Up’ that we’ll be hearing. Originally released in their home of Australia in 2007 I wonder what it must be like for a band to constantly have to promote the same stuff over and over again in different terriorites over such a long period. I know we think the world of pop is all glamour and glitz, but we have to remember to the people involved it’s probably like any other job. It has more than it’s fair share of amazing-ness but there must be those hungover or dragging days that get anyone down.

Image issues are another part of fame, and I think something The Veronicas are facing. Where once they were pretty looking normal girls, they’ve now become so thin it’s unattractive. You could see every bone and muscle in their knees when perching on stools and facially they looked worn and gaunt, plus they’re playing about with a ‘oooh we might be so sexy together’ lesbian T.a.T.u-esque vibe despite being sisters. Yawn, we’re so over that.

Muscially though, is what we’re all about, and live they pulled off a great show. They’ve dropped the super poppy sound of ‘The Secret Lives of…’ and taken a darker, more studio electronic vibe surrounded by emo looking band members. ‘Untouched’ will be their first UK single. It’s an urgent sounding, string laden teenage tale of yearning love that I think is brilliant. It’s perfect to soundtrack an episode of Gossip Girl, but I doubt it’ll work on super safe daytime radio music policies. Perhaps the similarly awesome but slightly more commercial Hook Me Up would do better. Equally their image is doubtful to impress fashion magazines or the like unless they were on a bit of a gothic vibe, with my friend from Marie Claire describing them on his twitter as ‘appleton + shampoo + pinks song + rubbish tattoos = the veronicas’.

You can download a free, guilt free copy of Untouched here courtesy of Fuse Magazine.

Download The Veronicas – Untouched [MP3].

Most importantly if you only have time for one creepy pair of weirdo sisters in your life, ditch these and go check out the wonderful The Pierces. We’re waiting for your new record!

Miss-Shapes Setlist 26/3

I’ve not posted a Miss-Shapes setlist and last night’s was particularly fun so here it is! If you like the sound of it, come down for a boogie every Thursday night at Ghetto on Old Street.

Fan Death – Veronica’s Veil
Bat For Lashes – Daniel
Marina & The Diamonds – Obsessions
Annie – Anniemal
Friendly Fires – Skeleton Boy
White Rose Movement – Love Is A Number
Cazals – To Cut A Long Story Short
LCD Soundsystem – North American Scum
Soulwax – E Talking (req)
Tiga – Shoes
Bloc Party – Helicopter (Peaches remix)
La Roux – In For the Kill
Little Boots – Stuck on Repeat
Royksopp – The Girls & The Robot
MGMT – Kids
Lady Gaga – Pokerface (req)
Britney – If You Seek Amy
Rick James – Superfreak
MIA – Paper Planes
Lady Sovereign – So Human
Destiny’s Child – Bugaboo
Ciara – Love Sex Magic
Mary J Blige – Family Affair
Pussycat Dolls – Jai Ho
Noisettes – Don’t Upset The Rhythm
Shocking Blues – Send Me A Postcard
Santogold – LES Artistes
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero
Annie – Anthonio
Girls Aloud – Miss You Bow Wow
The Saturdays – Work
Little Boots – New In Town

Eurovision 2009: The Netherlands

The draw for Eurovision 2009 took place today and we know now that the UK are performing 23rd out of 25. Good spot.

I’ve just started looking through the rest of Europe’s entries and an immediate high (low) light is Netherland’s entry from De Toppers. They’re all individual solo stars in Holland who’ve now come together to form this group. One of them has even released a whopping 22 albums. It’s all very strange.

The costumes are hilarious, the women look inexplicable, one of the men appears to be about 30 years younger than the other two and there’s a brilliant hands in the air breakdown towards the end. Never mind the extremely ridicuous keychanges in the last ten seconds.

It’s exactly the type of thing the UK will award 12 points to.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cfmiyg4hnag[/youtube]

Kid Cudi 4 Little Boots

Little Boots sang:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4AHoTH5_uI[/youtube]

Kid Cudi wrote:

SO IM WATCHIN THIS VIDEO FOR THE 20TH TIME AND I KNO WHY I FUCK WITH IT SO MUCH. THE WAY SHE SINGS IT, THE WAY THE PIANO SOUNDS, IS HOW IT FELT TO ME WHEN I CAME UP WITH THE MELODY. IN MY HEAD IT SOUNDED LIKE A SYMPHONY, I HEARD IT IN ORCHESTRA FORMAT LOL. THIS LIL BOOTS VERSION PAINTS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF HOW SAD I WAS AT THAT TIME IN MY LIFE. IT SETS THAT MOOD PERFECT. THIS IS HOW DAY N NITE WAS MEANT TO SOUND, MOODY AND SAD. BUT I DIDNT WANT IT TO BE SO DEPRESSING, WHICH IS WHY WE GAVE IT A WHOLE NOTHER FEEL, WITH A MORE UPLIFTING VIBE. BUT THIS IS PERFECT, ITS THE “REAL” DAY N NITE. HOW U WERE MEANT TO HEAR IT, SAD.

That nearly made me cry! Someone get them a room…

Menya!

If you loved the energetic indie dance pop touted by CSS & Bonde De Role after the last couple of years then there’s a new treat out there for you, and this time they’re not from Brazil.

Instead Menya are New York best friends Coco Dame, Angie Ripe and Good Goose. They write, produce and record their music themselves DIY stylee and conjure up lyrics like ‘Hey Philly Girls, I wanna eat your cheese steak!”

This is their brand new video for ‘Oh!’ Matching their vibe totally, it’s colourful, energetic, jerky and above all just good fun

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCLMvf8DObE[/youtube]