Review: Ladyhawke – Ladyhawke

Want to be the coolest kid on the block? Next time you get asked who you’re loving, Ladyhawke is the answer. Wobbling on that titchy kerb between underground and mainstream that the likes of MIA hover, twenty something New Zealander Pip Brown is the latest cool female chick to release some amazing pop music that will unfairly sell about 700 copies.

Signed to ultra hip label Modular, Ladyhawke has taken the best bits of the 80s and re-imagined them for 2008 with the likes of Stevie Nicks and Cyndi Lauper all in the mix. There’s a dance feel to most of the album with the Pascal Gabriel produced ‘Magic’ pounding it’s way into your brain –  it’s powerful chorus reminding us of Ladytron’s criminally ignored ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’. This and the similarly urgent sounding ‘My Delirium’ are stadium sized pieces of pop rock that make you want to hit the dancefloor and own it.

More intimately, the likes of former single ‘Back of the Van’ and the funky ‘Paris Is Burning’ show off Pip’s knack for writing instantly memorable lyrics.  ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ is like catching Peaches on a happy day, with it’s pulsating beats and bells oozing unnerving East Berlin vibes, while ‘Professional Suicide’ mashes CSS style guitars and drums with a hypnotic vocal.

Ladyhawke‘ is a rare case of the real thing living up to the hype. This shouldn’t be an album just for bloggers to swoon over, it’s good enough and mainstream enough to be huge.

Originally published at Orange Music

Review: Katy Perry – One Of The Boys

You know when you go a club, make eyes with a boy and then he gets distracted by some hussy who’s snogging other girls just to get the boys? That’s Katy Perry all over. With her pin-up looks and in your face attitude, she’s captured the attention of an massive audience hitting #1 in 20 countries.

Although initially compared to Lily Allen, there’s none of her cheekiness and wit. Instead ‘One of The Boys‘ falls neatly into your CD collection somewhere near Avril and Pink. Expect a straight mixture of all out rockers  and ‘woe is me’ angst ballads that will warm the heart of any teenage door slammer.

‘Hot N Cold’ is the best of the hard hitters. With pop anthem producer Dr Luke behind it, it’s a shout-a-long romp that’s far superior to the all conquering ‘I Kissed A Girl’.  The lyrically stupid ‘Ur So Gay’ might be irresistibly catchy but is full of face scrunching gay stereotypes, and while the likes of eyeliner anthem ‘Self Inflicted’ and ‘If You Can Afford Me’ are musically dull we’re sure her young audience will be able to empathise with her boy problems.

At fault is Katy’s insincerity. She thinks she’s like, ‘oh my gosh soooo alternative’, promising that she ‘belch her way through the alphabet’. Ultimately, though the ideas might be there, ‘One of The Boys‘ just feels like a very cleverly thought out idea. Calculating, corporate pop at it’s most effective.

Originally published at Orange Music

Review: Pussycat Dolls – Doll Domination

For a group of dancers, turned singers, the first Pussycat Doll album had a surprising number of workable singles on it. Now back to prove it wasn’t a one-off, ‘Doll Domination’ reads like a who’s who’s of urban pop. Darkchild, Cee-Lo, Lady Gaga and Missy Elliot are just some of the impressive names that have worked on this album.

Surprisingly it’s the midtempo songs that seem to stand out. There are of course some dancefloor stompers that shine with Snoop Dogg popping up on the vocoder heavy ‘Bottle Pop’ and New Kids on the Block (!!) going space electro with them on ‘Lights Camera Action’. Unsurprisingly nothing can compete with Timbaland’s trademark clean beats and he steals the show with the hypnotic, Middle Eastern vibes of ‘Magic’.

Proving that he can do the ballads just as well, old Timba has also conjured up gorgeous 2nd single “I Hate This Part”. Bizarrely “inspired by Sting”, according to Nicole, it’s melancholic piano is haunting.  Similarly ‘Hush Hush’ produced by label boss Ron Fair is an epic ballad promoting the Dolls as strong women who “never asked for help” from their men. Unnecessarily long with 18 tracks on the album, there must be some duffers and this falls mainly down to a disappointing R Kelly duet on the dull “Out of this Club”.

Closing with a cover of “Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps” as a nod to their cabaret past, Doll Domination is a surprising listen. Who ever could have dreamed they would end up being queen of the ballads?

Originally published at Orange Music

Review: Katy Perry @ Water Rats

‘I want you to pop my cherry!’ shouts Katy Perry, at this her first ever UK gig. Knowing exactly how to drive the teenagers packed into London’s tiny Water Rats wild, she’s even more wide-eyed and coy than she looks on TV – her vampish dress showing off, as one punter put it, ‘a great rack’.

Her debut album isn’t out yet, but this crowd know every word. Undoubtedly a show-woman, Katy’s bright blue eyes flash round the room wildly as she spends every moment trying to shock whether it be burping into the mic, begging the audience to ‘touch her boob’, telling us about her sexual exploits or peppering her lyrics with swearing.

Ripping into boys is a major theme. ‘If You Can Afford Me’ tells them off for expecting too much in return for dinner, while the unashamedly cruel ‘You’re So Gay’ disses her ex for being too metrosexual. Named as her ‘sing-along anthem’, her casual use of ‘gay’ as a derogatory term is reprehensible.

While the insincere rocky ballads show off her Alanis-esque voice, it’s the poppy ‘Hot N Cold’ that we enjoyed the most. A song almost too good for Perry, it’s a pulsating pop rock anthem that P!nk would kill for.

Katy disappears briefly off stage for a mock call to her super Christian mom. ‘I just want to make one thing clear, she was really f**king hot!’ she shouts, before launching into a rocked up version of bisexual shock-a-thon ‘I Kissed A Girl’ complete with head thrashing guitar breakdown.

Katy Perry, obsessed with bodily parts, sexuality and acting all alternative, is the perfect pin up for 15-year-olds who find emo too dark. It’s calculated corporate quirk and as that alone, is very good at what it does.

Review: Miley Cyrus – Breakout

Having spent most her life being more a brand than a human being, the girl behind Disney sensation Hannah Montana is finally creating her own self – Miley Cyrus. Fresh from pregnancy hoaxes and a controversial Vanity Fair photo-shoot, the aptly-named Breakout sees the world’s most famous 15-year-old throwing her toys out of the pram and putting her own name into the spotlight. All the Disney kids have tried to pull off the move from acting to singing with varying degrees of success, but it’s only Miley who has the songs and personality to make it work.

Read my full review of Miley Cyrus – Breakout over at Orange Music.

Review: Spice Girls – Greatest Hits

spice.jpgEverything about the Spice Girls reunion has been a bit odd. Right from the press conference where we were given shonkily made press packs, to the perfectly fine, but just disappointing “Headlines” and it’s bizarre video. I was a massive Spice Girls fan and am going to see them in December, so I hope they can pull of as good a tour as they did when I saw them in Manchester in 1999.

This week they released their greatest hits compilation. Nothing could go wrong there, well except Leona forcing them into #2, but the album itself is great – we all know what to expect.

Five girls, unashamed to spout opinions and punch their stamp onto everything, took the whole world by storm when they unleashed “Wannabe” on an unsuspecting audience back in 1996. Ginger, Scary, Sporty, Baby and Posh created their own revolution before Geri fled, they went a bit R&B and everything went silent.

Read the rest of my review of Spice Girls – Greatest Hits at BBC Music.

Review: Rihanna – Good Girl Gone Bad

rihannaUmbrella” is still number 1, five weeks after release, and amazingly it still hasn’t grown dull. There’s nothing like wandering around town going “ella, ella, ella” continuously. I even heard someone doing it in Paris (from where I have just returned).

Fabulously the album it’s taken from, “Good Girl Gone Bad”, is stonking.

And if New Order weren’t big enough to sample, prepare yourself for the sweltering disco grind of “Don’t Stop The Music”. Finely weaving the hypnotising “ma ma say, ma ma sa” bit of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Starting Somethin” into the melody, by the time it finishes, we dare you not to be racing around the dancefloor arms flailing.

Read my review of it at BBC Music.

REVIEW: Emma Bunton – Life In Mono

Bunton
I’m not sure where Emma Bunton comes in my list of favourite Spice Girls. Obviously the almighty Geri takes the top spot, but Emma, well, maybe third after Victoria. Anyway, dear mekonhead almost caused my ears to explode last week when I had to listen to her terrible new album. Emma darling, when will you realise you’re not living in an Austin Powers movie?

Pumping the BBC for all it’s worth with almost daily appearances on either Strictly Come Dancing or It Takes Two, you might have thought that the seemingly rush release of third album Life In Mono would be surrounded by masses of publicity. However, that probably wasn’t taking into account that on public votes Emma’s been the least favourite contentest for the last two weeks. As it is her lazy album charted at about 64. Well done.

"While she may be continuing "Free Me"s Sixties vibe ,
there’s nothing that even flirts with the beehive razzamatazz of
"Maybe". Tuneless opener "All I Need to Know" manages to make 4 minutes
feel like they last an hour, while the saccharine "He Loves Me Not" is
enough to make us vomit up the seven donuts we ate for lunch."

Read the rest of me being mean at BBC Music and avoid the album with care.

Oi deafo!

As you might know, I write music articles for various websites. One of my favourite sites to write for has a regularly used comments page on album reviews. Every so often I come across a really crap album and fans get mega cross and leave sometimes hilarious comments. I dread to think what the slagging I’ve given the Emma Bunton album will result in, but I like to look at them sometimes. Here are my latest favourites:

On Sugababes – Taller In More Ways: an album I called disappointing, annoying and dull (ahem)
"i fink sugababes r wiked n if u fink dey r
rubbish den ur rubish urself n u shudnt b aloud to rite on eya u shud
shut up n listen to it aleast dey can sing i bet u dnt like em cuz ur
jelous haha!! love yall.x.x.x.x.
"

"they are so cool but Kelly clarkon is better if u agree im me or els"
"
that is the worst reveiw ever and the guy should
be fired! the babes rock and they are 100000000 times better then the
catty girls 2loud! sugababes are pop queens and thats that.
"
"
this album is brilliant! i think tht the person who reviewed this don’t understand music!"
"
i like sheep n does any bod no hw 2 get da words
2 sugarbabes ugly ??? bi da way avent read this couldnt b bovered :)bi
the bi if u read this u r gay lol do u lov me ???? bibi XXX"
What does that last one even mean??

On Pink – I’m Not Dead,
"
Who is this person writing the review is she
deaf?
P!NK FOR LYF
"
"
I think P!NK is so great i’ve got her name tattooed on my body how about that for a fan"
"
ur just jealous that u dont have pinks success and brains"

LOVE IT! Bring it on Buntonites.

 

REVIEW: Amy Winehouse Live

Amy
I never really used to like Amy Winehouse, but some how she’s managed to produce what is perhaps* my favourite album of 2006. When she first came out I probably didn’t actually even listen to her, I just foolishly dismissed her as akin to Melua and the like, but now, oh my god, she’s amazing.

Nazza and I went down to the ever-pleasant Koko in Camden a couple of weeks to check her out live. We’d both seen her before in first album days – she played at my amazing graduation ball alongside The Scissor Sisters, Spooks, and Ash – but I don’t think I paid any attention. This time, I was a bit worried she might show up too drunk to sing, but I was wrong, and she totally delivered.

"With lead single Rehab blasting its way into the charts, Mark Ronson’s production has added a glamorous hip-hop beat to most of her Motown-inspired numbers and never is this more obvious than on the glorious second single, You Know I’m No Good, sounding here more Brooklyn than Camden.

Title track, the dark Back to Black is undoubtedly the jewel in the album’s crown with its melancholy, staccato piano transporting you to a smoky, dingy soul club in the 60s, the kind that none of us are old enough to actually remember."

I cheekily think my original copy is slightly better than the slightly edited version but still, go read the rest of it at the lovely BBC London.

If you’ve not heard the album yet, and you like the sound of sixties soul-y girl groups, motown and brass all with a minor hip-hop twist then I totally urge you to check out Back To Black. Rehab even gets played at Miss-Shapes and the amazing Unskinny Bop, and I’ve no doubt You Know I’m No Good will be going the same way. In fact, everyone’s favourite Pop Idol was at Miss-Shapes this week and stood drinking by the bar all night – only when we played Rehab did he dance, complete with a run-to- the-dancefloor -when-he-heard-it-start move. If you want to check out some songs that aren’t the singles, then try the title track, Me & Mr Jones (Fuckery) and Tears Dry On Their Own first

I might start hanging out more in Camden, I want Amy to be my Chanukah drinking buddy.