Dido

Dido... Wondering why she got out of bed at all

This Week’s Singles: Bowie, Dexys, Bloc Party, Stereophonics, FFAF, Dido and many more!

Published on March 1st, 2013 | Jonny Abrams

We review the singles every week. Why don’t YOU review this week’s singles? Go on!

Tch, fine, but you owe us…

Awolnation – “Kill Your Heroes”

Starts out promisingly enough with a ‘humorous’ kids’ TV show setting and a big stomping beat, but is let down by a chorus that might as well be Maroon 5, Matchbox 20 or the like. Some nice fluttery synth, but the overall impression is of identikit chart-pop given a veneer of credibility: it’s done smartly enough to maintain interest levels, but strip it down to the nuts and bolts of the songwriting and there’s really not an awful lot there.

Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Balthazar – “The Man Who Owns the Place”

Love the lyrics, the creeping film noir atmosphere and the plinky plonky bass – bit put off at first by the ultra-slurred vocal delivery but cynicism on that front subsides pretty quick. This is much more peculiar than it may initially seem, and our curiosity is certainly piqued.

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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Bastille – “Pompeii”

This man should not be allowed to sing. This is Fun. – as in Fun., that is, not fun – and again it’s a pretty limp song wrapped up in some neat production/arrangement tricks. Awolnation’s attempt, though, was more convincing than this warble-infested irritant.

Rocksucker says: One and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Binary – “You Need the Blue Key”

This is a total blast, like Big Black Delta and Secret Machines getting together to see if they could combine the sounds of Primal Scream and – as misleading a reference point as they no doubt will be – Black Rebel Motorcycle. Factor in lines like “I am a pill / I am a thrill / I am needless life support” and it’s a winner all ends up.

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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Bloc Party – “Truth”

Okay, Rocksucker’s never really ‘got’ Bloc Party, grey and earnest as their supremely limited songs have always sounded to us. No doubt they conjure some kind of ‘raw energy’ live that gets the indie kids all in a lather, but…you know…*sigh*. This kind of thing was boring in 2001 and it’s still boring now.

If nothing else, “Truth” is proof positive that driving, monotone bass lines aren’t becoming of every band. Let’s face it, these guys aren’t exactly Pixies, are they? Grey, grey, grey.

Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!

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Caro Emerald – “Tangled Up”

Ooh…it’s colourful, funky, sly, fun, melodically enterprising and therefore of considerably more interest than Bloc Party, as much as that assertion may be met with spluttering incredulity by skinny jeans-wearing, slick-backed-hair-sporting folk. “Tangled Up” isn’t exactly earth-shatteringly original, but there’s definitely a place for well-thought-through pop such as this.

Oh look, there’s Guy Chambers’s name on the writing credits – we couldn’t tell you why he’s not working with Robbie Williams any more, but it’s quite clearly to the boy band bloke’s detriment.

Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!

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David Bowie – “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”

It’s good to see Bowie enjoying himself after the downcast affair of “Where Are We Now?” – there’s even a gender-bending motif to the video, turning the clock back in a different manner to that of the previous single’s lyrical references to Berlin. It’s a steady, understated sort of rocker writ with all the class and character you’d expect, even at his age, from one of music’s all-time greats.

It shares with “Where Are We Now?” a ‘windswept’ sort of drama, so we hope you’ll forgive us for speculating that this will likely be extrapolated across forthcoming album The Next Day, expected 11th March. Stay tuned for our review of that, and in the meantime…

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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Deap Vally – “Lies”

Cripes, this here rock is filthy. “I thought we agreed / You wouldn’t have the need to spread your seed / But it’s a fact / You broke your contract / You’re gonna pay tenfold” – how very modern a revenge it is to staple some sleazy riffs to clattering drums and snarl sexily over the top about what a complete and utter bastard someone is or has been…and how very well these two ladies do it. “Jack White grew tits and a vagina and turned into this” is what one YouTube user saw fit to leave as a comment, and as crass as that may be it’s not far wrong.

Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Dexys – “She’s Got a Wiggle”

In our review of tremendous parent album One Day I’m Going to Soar, Rocksucker said of “She’s Got a Wiggle” that it “brings the kind of sassy soul which characterises our protagonist’s more decadent inclinations amidst the brewing battle between monogamy and polygamy”. Basically, Kevin Rowland’s still got it, and rather than faffing about with singles – albeit this one deals in a lovely, Tindersticks-ish sort of nocturnal – you should just head straight to the LP. Run along, now.

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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Dido – “No Freedom”

Yay, new Dido album coming soon! We’ve just got a new coffee table, so that’ll do just grand.

“No Freedom” could conceivably have been written to Costa’s very own spec. Oh, hang about – it was actually written by Alanis Morissette in 1995. However, whereas Rocksucker harbours a soft spot for that one, possibly out of nostalgia, Dido’s ‘version’ wears its own dreariness like a badge reading “ignore me”.

Pointless. Utterly, utterly pointless.

Wait, can we rephrase that? Okay, here goes:

No Angel, No Freedom, no point.

Arf!

Rocksucker says: One Quail out of Five!

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Ed Harcourt – “Back Into the Woods”

Sounds like it was recorded in a dustbin, but as it’s just Harcourt and a piano this does not detract one iota from its warm, melodic loveliness. “Back Into the Woods” is heartfelt in the right kind of way – that is, there’s none of the plastic ’emoting’ you’d expect from a more ‘polished’ piano ballad – and overall it bodes well for his new album, which we shall get round to reviewing on these pages post haste.

Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Example – “Perfect Replacement”

This is what happens when chart pop acts aim for respectability: it ends up sounding confused, faintly desperate, and ‘filmic’ in a way that its makers probably see as transcendent but is actually quite dull and trite. At least this one tries to do something original by mixing disparate styles together, even if it winds up better on paper – there’s a quail or two in it for that, but Rocksucker can’t envisage ever actually wanting to listen to this again.

Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!

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Exit Calm – “The Rapture”

Have you ever seen a more serious-looking band than these guys? Cool bass line, but this is essentially the product of wanting to be both Oasis and U2, which is a bit like the lad-rock version of wanting to be Lady Gaga and Rhianna. We can’t really condone it, but it’s not too bad all the same.

Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Funeral For A Friend – “The Distance”

Do you know what Funeral For A Friend sound like? Yeah? Well, you needn’t really listen to this, then.

They do what they do and they do it well enough.

Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!

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Jagwar Ma – “The Throw”

Dude with curtain hair dancing druggily about on a rooftop, eh? You half expect to see a pilled-up Shaun Ryder in the background urinating off the side of the building. Or something. Acid house killed rock and roll, ate its bones, and then Jagwar Ma happened. Like it.

Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Josephine – “Portrait”

Cutesy Camden Lock/’playing with dog-involving video that follows our heroine backwards into bed, all soundtracked by a nice, Gabrielle-ish sort of pop-soul song. Not bad.

Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!

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Josh Groban – “Brave”

Good Christmas present for your nan. Buy it now, avoid the rush. Sorted.

Rocksucker says: One and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Joss Stone – “Teardrops”

Lazy, pointless, stupid cover.

Yes, that’s all the review this is getting.

Rocksucker says: Half a Quail out of Five!

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Keaton Henson – “Lying to You”

This makes Damien Rice sound like Slipknot.

Again, that’s your lot.

Write your own damn review, then.

Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!

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Laura Mvula – “Green Garden”

Those chopped-up “ooh-WAH” backing vocals are bloody ingenious, elevating a decent sort of soul-pop strut into something quite captivating. This is a lesson in how to use electronically manipulated vocals to creative effect, rather than just whacking an AutoTune on some dullard or others.

As it goes on, it reveals itself as having more about it than just neat production touches, maintaining an air of magic and mystery that wholly justifies the ‘secret garden’ motif present in song and video. A surprising treat.

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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Local Natives – “Heavy Feet”

“Visually impaired model airplane pilots, singing sandwiches” is an intriguing YouTube ‘About’, and that is indeed what we get – in fact, said pilots start eating the sandwiches just as this smartly melancholic number kicks up a gear. Sweetly understated vocals and harmonies, restlessly rumbling drums, floaty guitar, radiating swells of musical warmth within its subtle melodic framework…we likey, basically.

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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Matthew E. White – “Big Love”

He sings like a cross between Steve Mason and Kevin Ayers, and plies this shuffling, jazzy groove with one delightful touch after another until all the beaming colours, textures and general eccentricities make you downright miffed that something like this should have to share a page with Dido. Very likely our single of the week, this – get on it, for heaven’s sake.

Rocksucker says: Four and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Melt Yourself Down – “Fix My Life”

Blimey, this is a bolt from the blue: abrasive saxophones! This is hyperactive jazz lunacy with a whacking great dirty rhythm section slipped underneath it to tumultuously clattering effect. Ace stuff, but probably best to avoid the video if you suffer from epilepsy. Come to think of it, shouldn’t there really be a warning on these things? Nevertheless…

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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Michael Bublé – “It’s a Beautiful Day”

As these sorts of things go, this ain’t half bad: it’s got a cheerful disposition, a sunny bounce, a full production, some classy songwriting touches and yer man doesn’t resort to warbling every other line. It still sounds sufficiently like McFly to make us want to be sick in our mouths a little bit, but if it had been McFly then it’d have been by far and away their best song.

Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Miles Kane – “Give Up”

Decent stuff this from Leighton Baines’s FIFA buddy: it toys with clichés, feeds them through a shredder and comes out rocking like some big, sleazy cross between Kasabian and The Zutons. As with those bands, though, the concerns are too earthly to touch upon true greatness, but those indie discos need fuelling and it’s better this than Jet or The Wombats. 

Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!

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MØ – “Pilgrim”

Ooh, it’s like a cross between Tune-Yards and Grimes, if those reference points aren’t too trendy for you. “All the time I just want to fuck it up” she sings, and she’s done very well by this constant compulsion insomuch as this is really quite refreshingly unusual 21st century pop music. More MØs and less Rhiannas please, world!

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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Neon Trees – “Everybody Talks”

Alarm bells start ringing when Rocksucker spies the YouTube hit counter – over thirteen million at the time of writing – and sure enough it’s ultra-polished irritant-pop with a bafflingly unrelated ‘zombie movie’ video. There’s one nice chord change in the chorus, otherwise: steer clear.

Rocksucker says: One and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Paramore – “Now”

That video looks so expensive, we feel like we’re haemorrhaging money just watching it. You can glean from that the sheer levels of sheen that this mediocre rocker is treated with. “There’s a time and a place to die, and this ain’t it” sings yer lass, who ends the battle at hand simply by hugging a soldier who’s about to strike her. Deep.

Rocksucker says: Two Quails out of Five!

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Richard Hawley – “Don’t Stare at the Sun”

In our three-quail review of his Mercury-nominated album Standing at the Sky’s Edge, Rocksucker said of “Don’t Stare at the Sun”: “…probably the most successful track here, coming over like a cross between Lambchop and Tindersticks but with more of a Beatles-y pop sensibility, not to mention a vocal that sounds rather like Damon Albarn. Building gradually into an Abbey Road-like climax, it’s the first song on Standing at the Sky’s Edge to justify its running time (five minutes and 49 seconds) and showcases what might be possible should Hawley decide to stick with the whole ‘psych’ thing on his next record.”

We’ll stand by that.

Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!

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Stereophonics – “Indian Summer”

…on which Stereophonics finally complete their transition into Rod Stewart. Blimey, if you’d played this insipid, bloated, FM radio claptrap back when they were bringing out songs like “More Life in a Tramp’s Vest” and “Just Looking”, people would only have believed it was the same band because of Kelly Jones’s distinctive rasp. Celebrity has well and truly sapped him and his band of all worth.

This is perhaps the least appropriately titled track you’ll come across all year, unless of course Mumford & Sons release one called “We Shouldn’t Be Fired Into the Sun out of a Cannon”.

Rocksucker says: One Quail out of Five!

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The See See – The Rain & The Snow

They deal in a vintage psych-pop that cannot fail to charm, and what they lack in originality they make up for in…well, that charm we just mentioned a second ago. If you like this then check out Cut From a Star, the recent solo album from The Coral drummer Ian Skelly.

Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!

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The VirginMarys – “Just a Ride”

As their name implies, The VirginMarys are missing something: in their case, however, it’s not vodka but any semblance of originality. It’s not bad – they thrash out a decent racket, like some kind of Arctic Monkeys/Foo Fighters hybrid – but there are too many wonderful and genuinely creative singles this week to give this the time of day.

Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Trwbador – “Safe”

Clacking, cartoonish electro-pop oddity from the Cornershop-endorsed Welsh duo, whose eponymous debut album received this glowing review on these very pages. Warning: not for fans of Stereophonics.

Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!

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WALK – “Walk”

Click here to listen to this on SoundCloud

Sounds like early Gomez having fallen into a bath of lysergic acid. Consider that a glowing recommendation.

Rocksucker says: Four and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Wiley feat. Chip – “Reload”

Somewhere along the line, Rocksucker was led to believe that Wiley was some kind of maverick – maybe he is, but you wouldn’t guess it from his incessant “I’m in a club right now, hey look how hot that girl is” lyricism. Ideal for Newquay foam parties, pretty much redundant in any other walk of life. He’s lucky he has a decent flow, otherwise we’d have nothing to commend this for.

Rocksucker says: One and a Half Quails out of Five!

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Zedd feat. Foxes – “Clarity”

This is the ’emotional white chick’ version of the Wiley tune above.

Can we say that? Suppose we just did.

Rocksucker says: One Quail out of Five!

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“Happy birthday to you all
I hope you really have ball.
And when you’re walking up the road,
I hope you finally explode!

Goodbye, everybody
Now it’s time to go.
I hope I don’t leave you feeling low, oh no….”

– Kevin Ayers (1944 – 2013)

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About the Author

Editor of Rocksucker and the website's founder, Jonny is passionate about the music he listens to, both good and bad, as well as interviewing his favourite musicians.