Mar 30, 2005

Slop From The Pops: UK Pop Chart 03.27.05
this week we have many exciting questions waiting to be answered... will Tony Christie continue his stranglehold on the number one spot and the hearts of people across the UK? does Will Smith still have any star power in the music world? will G4 claim their rightful position at number one with another ill chosen cover? will Conor Oberst chart ahead of 50 Cent? ok, so maybe not... but let's take a look anyway, shall we?

40. "numb/encore" - jay-z/linkin park (last week's position: 37)

39. "too cold" - roots manuva (new entry)
the second single off this British rapper's latest album features a string sample and sing-along chorus that's slightly reminiscent of Eminem's stuff. the Marshall comparison becomes even more apparent when you realize he's taking the Em route of creating a personal song about his insecurities and dealings with fame. of course he's nowhere near as fluent on the mic as Marshall is, but this isn't all that bad of a track. i'm really not enjoying this one as much as i enjoyed "Colossal Insight".

38. "over my shoulder" - i am kloot (new entry)
another casualty of the new show format.

37. "first day of my life" - bright eyes (new entry)
and Conor Oberst breaks the Top 40 with this single, taken from the more roots-oriented album of the two he released back in January. this is a simple, acoustic-driven track about being in love and realizing the bright future ahead to be had with that special someone. lucky for us he shuts down his pretentious side in this song, allowing us to focus on the beautiful melody and upbeat lyrics. it really is a sweet little track, showcasing just how damn good he can be when he wants to be. songs like this are what makes me a fanatic for Conor, because when he's on - he is really on.

36. "she's not you" - elvis presley (3)
35. "caught up" - usher (26)
34. "wake me up" - girls aloud (23)
33. "little sister" - queens of the stone age (18)

32. "edible flowers" - finn brothers (new entry)
just a short teaser of what results when Crowded House and Split Enz unite! sort of.

31. "how we do" - the game f. 50 cent (24)
30. "hush" - ll cool j (21)

29. "volcano" - damien rice (new entry)
Damien's got a great voice and the arrangement of this song is really nice, definitely not your usual acoustic pop ballad. the strings and the off-kilter rhythm of the strumming add quite a bit to this track, making for an enjoyable listen. the problem is that i'm pretty sick of this song, as it has been in just about every romantic movie trailer in the States over the past eighteen months. i think Damien is one of those guys that is good in small doses, but not somebody i could listen to frequently. he's a great deal better than John Mayer though, so i won't complain too much.

28. "give me your love" - xtm & dj chucky PTS annia (new entry)
yet another format change casualty, and it doesn't sound like a big loss.

27. "do somethin" - britney spears (19)
26. "keep this fire burning" - beverley knight (16)

25. "oh yeah" - the subways (new entry)
more British garage rock, although its about two years late to make that much of an impact. not that its really a wonderful song or anything, in fact it's pretty unspectacular. this really sounds like a tepid re-write of Jet's ?Are You Gonna Be My Girl?, which means there's absolutely nothing original about it. there is a jaunty little bassline though, if i was caught in the right mood i might actually bounce along to this. by the end of the track I find myself actually nodding my head along, but feeling absolutely guilty for doing it. is this like the garage rock version of Seven Mary Three?

24. "bohemian rhapsody" - g4 (9)
23. "holiday" - green day (11)
22. "dakota" - stereophonics (12)

21. "club foot" - kasabian (new entry)
apparently this single from last May gets re-issued, although I'm not really sure why. maybe to capitalize on the band's recent press and relative success in the United States. it fails to chart higher than the original release, as that one stalled out at 19. it's a pretty good song though, from an album with some absolutely killer singles and some ill-advised filler.

20. "stars to fall" - cabin crew (14)
19. "back to basics" - shapeshifters (10)

18. "it ended on an oily stage" - british sea power (new entry)
this is my first time hearing British Sea Power, and i have to say that this is not at all what i expected them to sound like based on all the press i've read. this song sounds a little too close to the Travis template for my comfort, although it's a tad bit better than most anything that band released (save "Rain on Me"). i guess i was just expecting something a little more raw and unfocused than this, not a slick radio ready mid-tempo ballad. it's not a horrible single, as the guitar work is pretty admirable and the lyrics aren't nearly as cheese-tastic as a Keane or Coldplay ballad. i won't dismiss the band solely because of this single, but i'm really not encouraged to seek out more by them. any of you BSP fans able to recommend something a little more telling? hit me up in the comments.

17. "california" - phantom planet (15)
16. "locked up" - akon (17)

15. "don't say you love me" - erasure (new entry)
here we have the second single off the new album, and again i'm surprised with how strong this is. the vocals are as strong and melodic as they have ever been, working really well in tandem with the music. based on the last two singles, i'd say that Erasure has not lost a step since their heights well over a decade ago. very few bands in 2005 could pull off a synth-based ballad like this without coming off as completely cheesy or ironic, but Erasure manages such a feat with even a touch of class.

14. "get right" - jennifer lopez (13)

13. "no sleep tonight" - faders (new entry)
this is a really catchy tune here, a female fronted new-wave group that owes a heavy debt to bands like Blondie and The Go-Go's. a really nice bassline, handclaps, and tambourine help this tune bounce along into the awesomely rockin' chorus. it loses steam a little during the police siren breakdown, but picks things back up before storming through to the conclusion. i've never heard of this band before and i can't seem to find anything about them on allmusic, but my interest is piqued. after the track we learn that its an all-female band and that they are working on a debut album to come out shortly, i'll be checking that one out for sure.

12. "oh my gosh" - basement jaxx (8)
11. "they"- jem (6)
10. "over and over" - nelly & tim mcgraw (7)
9. "falling stars" - sunset strippers (5)

8. "shiver" - natalie imbruglia (new entry)
it's about time we heard something new from the unbelievably lovely Ms. Imbruglia, whom you probably remember from her cover of ?Torn? from the late '90s. this isn't nearly as good as that slice of pop heaven was, but this isn't terrible either. not that i was expecting huge things from her, but in terms of simple pop tunes this is pretty solid. her voice sounds as good as it did years ago and she manages to carry this one off really well - i'm suitably impressed.

7. "rich girl" - gwen stefani f. eve (4)

6. "switch" - will smith (new entry)
well 2005 sees a new Will Smith movie ushered in with a new pop-rap single and album, sigh. except, wait a minute, this song is actually pretty decent. the Dirty South inspired stomp of the beat works really well with the call-and-response of the chorus. lyrically its pretty much the same old Will Smith, rapping about how to do his new dance and basically about how awesome he is. once you get over your expected bias against a new Will Smith track, you're left with a decently enjoyable and danceable pop-rap track. the only thing i can hope for now is a full-fledged DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince reunion.

5. "return to sender" - elvis presley (new entry)
this week we finally get to one of my all-time favorite Elvis tracks, and it manages to chart at only number five. i just don't get it, this is like Elvis at his absolute best. never before (or since) had a track about getting ditched by a lover been so much fun. the sax, the backing harmonies, the use of the word ?quarrel? in a pop tune ? it all adds up to one great novelty song. if all of his reissues were as good as this one i might not complain about a more deserving song losing a chart position to it. but honestly, of all the Elvis reissues not to hit number one - why this?

4. "candy shop" - 50 cent (new entry)
i really don't understand the appeal of this song at all, nor do i get why it's taking the charts on both sides of the Atlantic by storm. this is easily the worst single Fiddy has released so far, nothing but a lame rewrite of ?Magic Stick? without the saving grace of Lil' Kim. the twisted, Middle Eastern sounding sample is about the only worthwhile part of the entire song. i suppose people are just more comfortable with a familiar sounding track, but the success of this one continues to baffle me. as it is, there are about five or six other tracks on this album more deserving of a top five spot than this one.

3. "all about you" - mcfly (2)

2. "let me love you" - mario (new entry)
this placing at number two means we've got yet another week of Tony Christie at number one. seriously, sometimes you Brits frustrate the living hell out of me ? how can you let a crap novelty like that sit at the top of the charts for two weeks? anyway... let's focus on the song at hand, which is a completely mediocre R&B ballad in which Mario tries to out-Usher Usher and predictably fails. his voice is good enough and the production is pretty solid, but nothing strikes me as particularly memorable about this tune. overall i have to say that this week has been pretty lackluster as far as new entries, just browse over the list again and I'm sure you will agree. let's hope next week brings us something a little more exciting.

1. "(is this the way to) amarillo" - tony christie f. peter kay (1)

Mar 23, 2005

np: "get him back" - fiona apple

so it seems that Fiona Apple finished up her third album, Extraordinary Machine, some time back in 2003. she sent it in to Sony/Epic (her label) whom decided that they "didn't hear a hit single" and have since let the thing sit on their shelves. luckily for us, some dedicated fans (like those at Free Fiona) have worked hard to get these songs out on the net for people to hear. because, they really deserve to be heard by as many people as possible - Fiona fan or not. the album is a logical step forward from 1999's When the Pawn..., with Fiona again working with the excellent Jon Brion. the songs may not be immediately catchy, but they also aren't the kind that will be forgotten about 15 minutes later either. Apple's vocals and lyrics are as strong as ever and Brion's works more of his magic to bring the songs to life. click on the link below to download the track "Get Him Back" and see what all this buzz is about. hopefully Sony/Epic will come to their senses and get this thing into stores.

"Get Him Back" - Fiona Apple

and remember people, the comments button below is there for a reason - use it. let me know what you think of this track or anything else you've read on here.

Mar 22, 2005

Slop From The Pops: UK Pop Chart 03.20.05
alright, enough with the bitching about the current format. let's just get straight down to the nitty gritty this week...

40. "early morning rain" - paul weller (new entry)
just a snippet here of Mr. Weller's latest, doesn't sound like we are missing much by not hearing it in full.

39. "sometimes you can't make it on your own" - u2 (last week's position: 35)

38. "e-pro" - beck (new entry)
and this is Beck's new single, i'm really liking it. i wasn't sure what direction he was going to go with this new album, but i'd heard it was to be a more upbeat record in the vein of Odelay or Midnite Vultures. this first single, however, leads me to believe that we will be hearing almost a conglomeration of everything he's done in the past. this is definitely more rock-oriented than the vast majority of his singles since “Loser”, featuring some fantastic fuzzed-out guitar. the “na-na-na-na-na” chorus will be bouncing around my head for hours, and that's not a bad thing at all. i'm liking this a lot, but also wondering why it charted so low – do the Brits hate fun?

37. "numb/encore" - jay-z/linkin park (30)
36. "you got nothing on me" - glitterati (new entry)
35. "don't play nice" - verbalicious (21)
34. "3345" - black velvets (new entry)
33. "you're my first, my last, my everything" - howard brown (13)

32. "spoiled" - joss stone (new entry)
i'll just be honest right off, i really love this girl's voice – she is an absolutely amazing vocalist. and this song is perfect for her, a nice slow-burning love song which allows her to simmer a bit before boiling over. it's very refreshing to hear a female vocalist with talent like this actually use it instead of relying on hot producers and studio vocal tricks. i'm glad to see her getting some love from the single-buying public, she really deserves to be huge.

31. "like toy soldiers" - eminem (24)
30. "oh my god" - kaiser chiefs (18)

29. "used to love u" - john legend (new entry)
i'm not usually a huge fan of male R&B for some reason, but this is something i could totally dig. he's a good vocalist, it has lovely backing harmonies, and it features some pretty solid instrumental work - all very good things. the pop culture references start to take a little something away from the song after a bit, but that's not enough to spoil my enjoyment. i really think this guy could have a very, very long and prosperous career ahead of him (which probably means he'll be forgotten by 2007, given my prediction rates). after the song is played, we (i) learn that John was mentored by Kanye West, let's hope for a collaboration in the future.

28. "an honest mistake" - the bravery (15)
27. "foolish" - tyler james (16)
26. "caught up" - usher (20)
25. "good luck charm" - elvis presley (2)
24. "how we do" - the game f. 50 cent (17)
23. "wake me up" - girls aloud (14)
22. "krafty" - new order (8)
21. "hush" - ll cool j (12)

20. "the widow" - the mars volta (new entry)
oh yeah, nu-prog hits the UK Top 20, how fantastic is that? i’d say pretty fantastic if you ask me - especially when you take into consideration how damn good this song is. i think it compresses everything good about their latest album while excising the fat. sure the lyrics are still overdone and needlessly obtuse, but that's just something you need to deal with when listening to the new era of prog rock (see also: Coheed and Cambria). the trumpet work is fantastic and the guitars are positively scorching, this is overblown rock music at its best – more please. i'm kidding, but it is kinda cool to see this reach the top 20.

19. "do somethin" - britney spears (11)

18. "little sister" - queens of the stone age (new entry)
plug in folks, its time for some hot riff action from Josh Homme and company here, featuring what the world needs now – double the cowbell love! let's take a moment and just appreciate the cowbell. ahhh, now that we have that out of the way, time to talk about the song. well, it's a big pile of average – at least as far as QOTSA is concerned. i feel like Josh used up most of his creativity on the Desert Sessions projects and left a couple of decent riffs out for this album, with little else to support it. don't get me wrong - this is still pretty solid hard rock that is far better than anything nu-metal ever produced, but it feels like Josh is treading water with this one.

17. "locked up" - akon (10)

16. "keep this fire burning" - beverley knight (new entry)
this isn't very good, just your average R&B/pop-by-numbers type of thing. a very generic beat that not even a Beyonce or a Christina could do much with, made even worse when topped off by a mediocre vocalist like Beverley. in terms of chart position, this totally should have swapped places with that John Legend track since that one was much hotter. there's really nothing much else to say, don't go out of your way to hear this one.

15. "california" - phantom planet (9)
14. "star to fall" - cabin crew (6)
13. "get right" - jennifer lopez (7)
12. "dakota" - stereophonics (4)

11. "holiday" - green day (new entry)
i'm glad they picked this as the third single, i was afraid that they would go the two ballad in a row route and choose “Wake Me Up When September Ends”. this is pretty good stuff, continuing to prove that American Idiot was as great of an album as i originally thought it was. i'm especially impressed by how well all of the singles have held up on their own, without the overall concept to back things up. Tre Cool shows off his fantastic drumming skills on this one, i really think he's been one of Green Day's best assets all along. there's also a really nice bass breakdown before Billie Joe's political rant, which one might expect to bring the track down but it really doesn't. i never would have thought that Green Day of all bands would be the one to mix politics and pop songs so fantastically, but they have and i am very glad.

10. "back to basics" - shapeshifters (new entry)
Shapeshifters were responsible for last year's “Lola's Theme” which, if i recall correctly, was one of the few dance anthems that i somewhat enjoyed. this won't be joining that elite club, unfortunately, as its pretty much pure crap. the whole thing sounds very generic to these ears and doesn't do anything for me whatsoever.

9. "bohemian rhapsody" - g4 (new entry)
good god, did we actually need a cover of this song by anyone? Queen pulled this off – barely, and that should be enough to keep anyone from ever attempting to perform it again. but G4 doesn't consult me on these decisions, so they've went ahead and given it a shot. from what I understand, G4 is kinda like the classical/opera equivalent of a boy band and this is their attempt to capture the hearts of the pop kids. and, yes it makes this song as hard to listen to as you might be led to believe from that description. they manage to turn what little rock action there was in the original into pure AOR schmaltz with a massive string section. this is a horrible, horrible cover that should not have even been conceived of – let alone actually recorded and foisted upon an unknowing public.

8. "oh my gosh" - basement jaxx (new entry)
the Jaxx are back with a brand new single, which appears as the obligatory new track on the just released singles compilation. it’s pretty decent stuff, reminding me a little of the JC Chasez collaboration from Kish Kash, but with a little better beat. this is pretty standard Jaxx production here, lots of neat little crashes and swooshes popping up all over the place without interfering with the vocals. which, by the way, are fantastic – I really hope this girl does more work. she’s got just the right combination of sass and style, a perfect match for Basement Jaxx. also, i have to mention that this singles comp has to be absolutely wonderful – “Romeo”, “Just 1 Kiss”, “Where’s Your Head At” – how could it not be?

7. "over and over" - nelly & tim mcgraw (4)

6. "they" - jem (new entry)
my only previous exposure to Jem had been on last year’s fantastic season finale of The O.C., so you’ll forgive me if i’m a little skeptical. turns out i don’t really need to worry, as this girl has loads of talent. this is a nice little tune over a frantic pre-programmed beat and heavenly chorus, pretty heady stuff for a pop single – and it works fairly well. her voice sails along over the top, turning into a sweet and memorable melody that will come back to haunt me i’m sure (but in a good way). i have to say that this beats the pants off the Paul McCartney cover i heard previously from her.

5. "falling stars" - sunset strippers (3)

4. "rich girl" - gwen stefani f. eve (new entry)
also known as the single in which Gwen gets her Yiddish on, she’s all up in that Fiddler On The Roof shit. lucky for us she brings along her favorite partner in crime, Eve, to grace us with some hot lines. this is an alright track, but this is about the fifth song i would have chosen from the album to be a single. it’s catchy and all that fun pop stuff, but it just doesn’t strike me as the best follow-up to “What You Waiting For”. Eve’s verse is pretty solid, but overall i much prefer the song that came out of their first team-up.

3. "she's not you" - elvis presley (new entry)
the year of Elvis continues, as we get yet another shuffling ballad about some girl or other. it’s not bad but not great either, it really seems like the type of song Presley could toss off in his sleep. would it have killed him to try and branch out a little bit now and then? i never thought i would say this, but i’m dying to hear that polka one from a couple of weeks ago.

2. "all about you" - mcfly (1)

1. "(is this the way to) amarillo" - tony christie f. peter kay (new entry)
and we’ve got another Comic Relief benefit track here, so that bodes pretty well. if by “bodes well” i mean “guarantees shit to come pouting out of my speakers", then yes that fact bodes rather well. apparently the Brits just love Tony Christie, as his recent compilation album is in the top five, so let us see if all that attention is justified. well, i’m learning that this is more of a duet version featuring that Peter Kay dude – so that may just be even worse.and it very much is. anyway, it’s an old song about Marie waiting for her dude in Amarillo (Marie’s in Amarillo that is, not the dude). i think i could learn to like this song, if i were seventy-five and spent every waking moment on the nickel slots in Atlantic City.

Mar 17, 2005

np: "shhh... peaceful" - miles davis

the past few days have found me on a huge Miles kick, something that i seem to go through now and then. my interest was reignited this past weekend when i picked up one album of the Live at the Blackhawk set at a record show. i really enjoyed it, so i grabbed several Miles things when i was at the local library the following night. i wish i was more eloquent when it came to describing jazz, but The Complete In A Silent Way Sessions is a fantastic set of music. from what i understand of Miles' history, this came just as he was starting his transition into full on fusion mode. something which i'll probably be exploring further since i also checked out Bitches' Brew (unfortunately just the original version, no box set). i don't think i have the patience (or the money) to become a huge addict or collector, but i think its something i will continue to enjoy.

for those interested, the record show was one of the best i've been to - at least in terms of quality scores. i picked up some really great vinyl in addition to the Miles, that's for sure:

New Order - Low-Life
New Order - Brotherhood
The Smiths - Louder Than Bombs
The Smiths - Meat is Murder

also, i've started writing some album reviews for the excellent Static Multimedia site, so go check them (and the site itself) out. in case you are curious to check out some of my more long form reviews, here's what i've written on The Afters and The Capitol Years.

Mar 14, 2005

Slop From The Pops: UK Pop Chart 03.13.05
so the second week of the new format comes along, and yes... its still as horrible as before. let's hope the BBC pulls its head out of its ass and realizes that this is NOT the way to fix things.

40. "hounds of love" - the futureheads (last week's position: 19)
39. "typical me" - kano (22)

38. "everywhere" - LNM project f. bonnie bailey (new entry)
well, this week starts off promising – in that they are actually playing the first new entry in its entirety, unfortunately its another crap dance remake. but this time we go back to the 1970s and Fleetwood Mac for inspiration, rather than the 80s. has that decade been pillaged enough already? anyway, this is very horrible – using every trick in the book, from echo vocal tricks to the compressed beat as i like to call it. if we only get to hear select new entries in whole, why does it have to be one this crap? this does make me want to go pull out my Fleetwood Mac vinyl and hear pop done right.

37. "heartbeatz" - styles & breeze f. karen danzig (16)
36. "need to feel loved" - reflekt f. delline bass (21)
35. "sometimes you can't make it on your own" - u2 (27)
34. "soldier" - destiny's child f. t.i. & lil wayne (23)
33. "out of touch" - uniting nations (24)

32. "on a noose" - tower of london (new entry)
promising garage rock here, but how would us listeners be able to tell, since the moron twins hosting the show decide to babble on randomly about the band over a short clip. they manage to include such wonderful witticisms as, “i’ve never met them, but it sounds like they smell”. of course, that’s exactly what i’d rather hear than, you know, say the ACTUAL FUCKING MUSIC! sorry, i’ll try to keep that all in check this week.

31. "let's get blown" - snoop dogg f. pharrell williams (20)
30. "numb/encore" - jay-z/linkin park (25)

29. "turn da lights off" - tweet f. missy elliott (new entry)
and we actually get this whole song as well, which is fantastic, because this song is really hot. it kicks off with a great intro speech by Missy, interspersed with an old vocal soul sample. the main beat sample source sounds like it’s coming straight off of old vinyl and into your ear, just a simple repeated horn figure from some old jazz album. Tweet comes in to carry us over the beat, I’ve always been a big fan of her voice – and a hot beat like this makes me love it even more. my only complaint is that the Missy intro goes on a little long, maybe if she actually kicked a few rhymes instead of just spouting random lines it would be a little better. however, the line “this is not a mixtape, this is a sick tape” is absolutely classic. very solid single, this deserves to go far this year.

28. "lift me up" - moby (18)
27. "almost here" - brian mcfadden & delta goodrem (15)
26. "rock-a-hula baby" - elvis presley (3)

25. "shot down" - nine black alps (new entry)
apparently the BBC is NOT all about the rock, as this promising sounding track gets the shaft, with just a ten second snippet.

24. "like toy soldiers" - eminem (17)

23. "free my name" - ocean colour scene (new entry)
and OCS also gets the shaft, barely even ten seconds this time around. i’m really going to have to hunt this track down, as i used to be a huge fan of the band but fell off once their albums stopped being available in the United States.

22. "hype hype" - SLK (new entry)
this is a pretty cool grime track here, all crazy and ragged. the title is perfect, as this is hyper as all hell – complete with a schizophrenic beat and a couple emcee’s spitting craziness all over the place. the drums are on some wild African polyrhythmic sort of thing, balanced by a sweet bassline and horn samples. the female emcee only makes a short appearance, but she sounds pretty cool – i’ll have to listen for this again to see if i can catch her name.

21. "don't play nice" - verbalicious (13)
20. "caught up" - usher (14)

19. "i'm not okay (i promise)" - my chemical romance (new entry)
i really love this song, its only grown more and more on me since i first heard it months ago. this is emo/punk done wonderfully, just the right balance of melody and aggression. i like how the song stays in check without the screaming getting out of hand – they seem to remember that this is a pop song, something more (scr)e(a)mo bands could take a lesson from. the two best moments are that blistering guitar solo and the moment when the screamed second syllable of “okay” comes in after the quiet bit. seriously, this is an excellent song.

18. "oh my god" - kaiser chiefs (11)
17. "how we do" - the game f. 50 cent (12)

16. "foolish" - tyler james (new entry)
i’m not sure exactly what i would classify this song as, but i rather like it. reminds me a little of Robbie Williams, in that its just a general sort of pop tune that doesn’t belong to any particular genre. it’s definitely R&B influenced, but shuffles along like a rock-oriented pop tune. towards the end the guy begins to over sing and the ad libbed scat thing over the piano grates on my nerves, but before we get to that point we are treated with a decent little upbeat pop tune.

15. "an honest mistake" - the bravery (7)
14. "wake me up" - girls aloud (10)

13. "you're my first, my last, my everything" - howard brown (new entry)
the song hasn’t even started yet and I’m already worried, as they reveal that this is a charity single by some dude that sings adverts for Halifax banks – never a good sign. the songs starts, aaaaaaannnnnndddd… my fears are more than realized. this is horribly wrong, like the really drunk old man trying to prove himself to the hip kids at your local watering hole’s karaoke night. yeah, it’s that awful - remind me to not bank with Halifax if i ever find myself with banking needs in England.

12. "hush" - ll cool j (9)
11. "do somethin" - britney spears (6)
10. "locked up" - akon (8)

9. "california" - phantom planet (new entry)
not sure exactly why this song from 2002 is just now getting a single release here in 2005, but i’m guessing it has something to do with The O.C. starting to get a heavy UK push or something of that sort. as for the song itself, it’s not a bad slice of rock here, although its hard for me to be objective as i’ve heard this song numerous times over the past three years – and to be honest, i could die happy not having heard it ever again. it’s a good summertime road trip anthem though, all epic chorus and driving beat. not a bad song, but puzzling to hear in the Top 10 nearly 3 years after its original release.

8. "krafty" - new order (new entry)
this is excellent, one of my favorite New Order singles since the 1980s’ classics like “Blue Monday” or “Bizarre Love Triangle”. “Krafty” is a wonderfully bouncy pop tune, striking a great balance between the synth-driven traditional New Order sound and the more rock-oriented sound they’ve explored more recently. lyrically, this is a really uplifting song about how wonderful life is and appreciating just where you are in life. and the great thing is, it’s not cheesy in the least. ok, well sorta, but it really is an uplifting song that makes you want to smile and bounce along whilst driving at a fast speed down the highway, windows down and breeze blowing in. this just could be my Spring 2005 anthem, leaving me drooling in anticipation of the new album.

7. "get right" - jennifer lopez (5)
6. "star to fall" - cabin crew (4)
5. "over and over" - nelly & tim mcgraw (2)
4. "dakota" - stereophonics (1)

3. "falling stars" - sunset strippers (new entry)
ugh, so remember last week when I wrote about that Cabin Crew single (number 6 this chart)? yeah? well go back and read it again, because it will pretty much sum up this single as well. that’s right, this is another dance mix based on the Boy Meets Girl sample from the 1980s. i’m not sure why we needed two singles based on the same song two weeks in a row, but as the BBC doesn't consult me on matters such as this, here they are. let’s just hope numbers 2 and 1 hold something more exciting in store for us.

2. "good luck charm" - elvis presley (new entry)
another Elvis single fails to break number one, this one would have been a great one to pull such a feat though. i like this much more than the last several, a decent semi-ballad sent out to his love and how she's better than a nasty ol' rabbit's foot any day. the backing harmonies really make this song, especially the guy with the bass voice popping in with his “uh-huh” now and then. it’s not the best Elvis single i’ve ever heard, but it doesn’t make me want to attach a vacuum to my outer ear and suck out my brain - so it does have that going for it at least.

1. "all about you" - mcfly (new entry)
and this is a double a-side single released for charity, somehow involved with Comic Relief 2005. the funniest thing about it is that they actually got enough people to buy this crappy song to make it to number one. it’s a horrible ballad in which the boys from McFly trade off verses, both of them managing to sound like they’re struggling with a bowel movement. i suppose this is what passes for “emotion” to the kids of Britain or something, but it’s quite possible the worst number one of the year so far. this spot so belonged to New Order, damn it – why aren’t you real music fans out there buying the good singles?

Mar 12, 2005

np: "pete standing alone" - boards of canada

2005 album catch-up:
i figured with march already upon us, this would be a good time to put up some comments over some of 2005's albums i've really been diggin'.

Doves - Some Cities
this is a really solid album, better than i was expecting it to be. its a little more "organic" sounding than the previous releases, and "Black and White Town" is a wonderful single.

Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
i'm surprised at the sudden amount of hype this band is getting, namely the 16 page spread in Rolling Stone. even more surprising to is the extreme hatred this band seems to rile up in people. they're nothing more than a rock band folks, they ain't gonna change the world (or revive Southern Rock) - but this new album does have some dirty rawk gems buried in it, namely "Four Kicks" and "Day Old Blues".

Iron & Wine - The Woman King EP
Sam Beam spices up the sound with a full band and - get this! - even an electric guitar. and the verdict it... very fucking solid. i think it comes down to this - whether hushed and intimate or loud and grooving, Mr. Beam can flat-out write engaging tunes. thats really all there is.

Louis XIV - Illegal Tender EP
i feel dirty for liking this so much, but maybe thats the point. "Finding Out True Love is Blind" is the best garage rock song of 2005, but the whole EP is enjoyable as well. it will be interesting to see if the band can carry this kind of solid material over the full-length of thier upcoming LP.

50 Cent - The Massacre
"Candy Shop" sucks, i still can't see how that managed to get to number one, "Magic Stick" wasn't that great the first time around and this version doesn't even have Lil Kim. anyway, the new Fiddy album is not too bad. like most 70 minute plus rap albums it begins to wear a little thin by the end, but there are some definite highlights that are well worth checking out - "Ski Mask Way", "Ryder Music", "I'm Supposed to Die Tonight", "A Baltimore Love Thing", and the super-hot G-Unit posse remix of "Hate It or Love It".

Mogwai - Goverment Commissions: BBC Sessions 1996-2003
this album kicks off with a sweet tribute to John Peel with him introducing one of the many bands he championed over the years, and doesn't let up. it makes for a wonderful trip throughout Mogwai's career as nearly every period is touched upon. but the album's highlight is the jaw-dropping 18 1/2 minute version of "Like Herod". Mogwai fans would be wise to pick this thing up, and i think it'd also make a solid introduction to the newcomer as well.

Dead Meadow - Feathers
the addition of a second guitarist really brings this band's sound to a whole other level. of course, it also helps that they've added more to the mix than just sludgy/Sabbath-y guitar dirges, creating a fuller psychadelic stew this time around.

Mar 10, 2005

Slop From The Pops: UK Pop Chart 03.06.05
well, this is the first week of the new JK & Joel hosted Official Chart Show. and i'm severely disappointed in this turn of events. i posted a bit about it yesterday, so i'm going to try not to dwell on the negatives here, but i'm still pissed that not all chart entries will get played any more. so you will notice that this week there are quite a few new entries that will have no commentary from me, those are the ones that didn't get played. some of the ones that didn't get played i have heard before from other sources, so i will throw a line in for those. but if there's no commentary underneath a particular new entry - its because fucking BBC Radio 1 is trying to destroy the pop charts. ok ok, i'm done ranting... on with the show...

40. "black horse and the cherry tree" - kt tunstall (last week's position: 28)
39. "angel eyes" - raghav (25)
38. "sunrise" - angel city (23)

37. "come into my room" - nathan (new entry)
we actually get to hear this whole song, but i gladly would have traded this one for almost any of the other new entries. this is your standard “sex you up” R&B track, with a really mediocre “rap” halfway through. it's all very blah, nothing at all interesting or worth another listen. ladies, do you really feel complimented by the “Coca-Cola bottle shape” line?

36. "wires" - athlete (32)
35. "keine lust" - rammstein (new entry)
34. "surrender" - elvis presley (19)
33. "marie's the name (his latest flame)" - elvis presley (3)
32. "the joker" - fatboy slim (new entry)
31. "triumph of a heart" - bjork (new entry)
30. "don't" - shania twain (new entry)

29. "daft punk is playing at my house" - lcd soundsystem (new entry)
this doesn't get played beyond 10-15 seconds during which the moron hosts talk over it, which should be against the fucking law. you must respect the Soundsystem! but seriously, yeah, this song is outstanding. if you've followed LCD Soundsystem at all over the past couple years you are well aware of the level of awesomeness they have achieved on singles such as "Losing My Edge" and "Yeah". well, this song is the first track from the debut full-length and it doesn't disappoint in the least. very fun disco-punk tune all about, you guessed it, Daft Punk coming to perform at the singer dude's house. whats not to love about it? especially when it can make your ass shake like this beat can.

28. "galvanize" - chemical brothers (27)
27. "sometimes you can't make it on your own" - u2 (18)

26. "electron blue" - r.e.m. (new entry)
this is another one that gets the shaft from the BBC this week, but its not that big of a loss. in case you haven't heard, the new R.E.M. album is really mediocre. some might call it downright awful, but i hold too much loyalty to the band from my early years to say that much. but it is pretty boring and unmemorable. having said that, this is probably my favorite track off the album - which is kinda like saying its the least stinky sock in the laundry basket, but whatevs.

25. "numb/encore" - jay-z/linkin park (21)
24. "out of touch" - uniting nations (22)
23. "soldier" - destiny's child f. t.i. & lil wayne (17)

22. "typical me" - kano (new entry)
this is a really hot combination of the UK grime sound with the US crunk sound, and it works extremely well. Kano spits his rhymes over a Lil-Jon influenced beat, with a rigid drumbeat and metal guitar riffs. i don't find Kano as great of a lyricist as Dizzee Rascal or Wiley, but he has a more easy-going flow that works great with this type of beat. i'm glad that Radio 1 blessed us with this whole song, too bad they couldn't for that awesome LCD Soundsystem song that you all need to check out (seriously, i'm gonna keep bringing it up until you do).

21. "need to feel loved" - reflekt f. delline bass (14)
20. "let's get blown" - snoop dogg f. pharrell williams (13)
19. "hounds of love" - the futureheads (8)

18. "lift me up" - moby (new entry)
this is the first single from the bald one's latest album, and much like the last several singles i'm really not feeling it. he's thankfully moved away from the sound he milked throughout Play and 18 to such huge commercial success, with this single sounding closer to his early more dance-oriented work. it's not bad, and nowhere near as AOR as the last two albums have been, but it's still lacking that certain something that reaches out and grabs you. towards the end it fades into dance cliché, with the diva vocals kicking in and carrying it towards the conclusion. it's not horrible, it's not great, it's just Moby.

17. "like toy soldiers" - eminem (12)

16. "heartbeatz" - styles & breeze f. karen danzig (new entry)
and we move into this week's dance anthem new entry, and it's much like the others – nothing that's getting me excited. i do like Karen's voice much better than your average dance dive, but i swear i've heard this beat on 13 different dance tracks this year. let's try something a little new, shall we dance producers?

15. "almost here" - brian mcfadden & delta goodrem (15)
14. "caught up" - usher (9)
13. "don't play nice" - verbalicious (11)
12. "how we do" - the game f. 50 cent (10)
11. "oh my god" - kaiser chiefs (6)
10. "wake me up" - girls aloud (4)
9. "hush" - ll cool j (7)
8. "locked up" - akon (5)

7. "an honest mistake" - the bravery (new entry)
i really, really want to hate this song, mostly for reasons that are completely unrelated to the music itself. for those of you who don't know this bands backstory – apparently up until very recently most of the members were part of a ska band called Skabba the Hut. once the new-wave retro sound of bands like Franz Ferdinand hit it big, the guys went for a new look and sound. this type of thing really frustrates me, i'd much rather hear from a band who is honest about the music they make. upon my first listen to this song, it just struck me how “bandwagon” it sounded, before i even knew anything about the band. but, when all is said and done, it's a pretty damn catch tune. it's not even in the same league as a “Mr. Brightside” or a “Take Me Out”, but it's decent enough that i don't mind hearing it. i will say this though, it will be a crime if these guys make it bigger in the States than the Kaiser Chiefs, which pretty much guarantees it'll happen.

6. "do somethin" - britney spears (new entry)
so Britney's period of rest doesn't last very long, and she's back with this pretty hot single. the beat is all fat and rubbery, pulsating behind Brit as she borrows a page from Gwen Stefani's book on vocal tricks. the little touches here are excellent, like that wobbly synth line and static scratching that kicks in during the song's bridge. the lyrics are pretty lousy though, and her voice seems to lack that certain sexy little something that made tracks like “I'm a Slave 4 U” and “Toxic” work so well. it almost sounds as if she thinks a hot beat will be enough to carry her through this time, not spending too much time worrying about her vocal performance. in the end it's a decent single for Brit, but she needs to push a little harder next time.

5. "get right" - jennifer lopez (2)

4. "star to fall" - cabin crew (new entry)
this is another in the line of modern dance tracks based on 80's hit songs, this one being “Waiting For a Star to Fall” by Boy Meets Girl from 1988. you may not recognize the artist name, but trust me – you've heard this song before. as far as this new version, it's pretty much a big pile of pure Velveeta cheese, but it's harmless and fun cheese. i imagine it's a song that i would grow tired of very quickly, but not bad for a quick shot of fun when you need it.

3. "rock-a-hula baby" - elvis presley (new entry)
and more Elvis again, this time with a novelty hit about a hula girl. and, yes, its about as crap as you might expect it to be. although i have to admit liking the sexual innuendo he uses when he sings about her “moving that grass around”, very classy. there's really not much else to say about this one, just a short little crap tune that Elvis probably used to shill one of his movie appearances, but at least it was over quickly.

2. "over and over" - nelly & tim mcgraw (1)

1. "dakota" - stereophonics (new entry)
the 'phonics hit number one for the first time in their career with this single, a bombastic slice of epic pop in the U2 vein. except it's quite a bit better than the majority of recent U2 singles, mostly because it doesn't really try too hard to be something it's not. everything about this from the tempo shift in the chorus to the earnest vocals to the reverb-laden guitar screams out “epic pop tune”, and there's really nothing wrong with that. i guess i just like it when a band isn't afraid to throw everything they've got into a track like this, i'm hearing more passion in this song than in most everything they've done before. maybe “passion” isn't what you look for in your pop music, but sometimes it really works and this is one of those times. this is by no means a classic song for the ages or anything, but it makes a nice contrast to all the trendy new-wave rock and urban tracks blanketing the charts. i'm feeling happy that an old-fashioned, earnest rock song can hit the number one slot.

Mar 7, 2005

np: "the sermon" - jimmy smith

alright, apologies for the lack of updates over the past week - things have been crazy hectic around via//chicago world. still debating on the direction i want to take with my Slop From the Pops weekly round-up, as BBC Radio 1 has decided to fuck with the Top 40 Chart show format and render it next to worthless. ok, that may be a little harsh, but i'm none too happy about the resulting changes. my biggest complaint is that they've decided to no longer play every week's new entries beyond number twenty. that means that any new single debuting in the bottom half of the chart is no longer guaranteed to be played on air. the top twenty is still played in its' entirety, so if a song climbs up the charts it will be played, but those one week hits that fall off a week after debuting at say, #36, might not get aired at all. and this is really unfortunate, as some of the most interesting songs, in my opinion, are the ones that peak in the lower regions. it's the lesser known songs and bands that can reach an audience this way, as the top 20 is usually overplayed as it is anyway. anyway... i'll probably continue doing my recaps, but as i can no longer hear songs past 20 that aren't played, it will most likely become just a recap of positions 20-1. its better than nothing, but i feel like a lot of good shit is going to slip through the cracks this way. oh well, i suppose this is the way of the music industry today - squeezing out the marginal artists in order to focus on the already over-exposed few superstars. ugh.