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Wednesday, August 18, 2004  
Bring On The Songs (2004 Redux Version) (Marlon Brando Has A Number On His Face) Ra-Ra Girls And Summer Fun Days Oh My God What Am I Singing In The Heat Haze AKA These Are The Songs Of Our Lives, Or At Least August 2004 (The Year Thus Far) [OR; Killing Time While I Wait {For A Camera}] [which has now arrived hence this has got forgot]


It’s the middle of August. Shall I witter about some singles and album tracks that I’ve loved so much I’ve put them together in a playlist on the iPod…? Yes I shall.

Britney Spears – Toxic
This doesn’t even need talking about anymore, does it? I picked it as a standout back in October last year or whenever it was that I reviewed In The Zone, and sure enough it tore up the charts. It is, thus far, the single of the year, and I can’t imagine anything else trumping it. The guitars don’t sound real, the strings don’t sound real, Britney doesn’t sound real, but then again she never did. You can barely make out any of the words, and those you can make out are salacious. It’s a barrage of hooks, weird, automated, artificial intelligence hooks. The whole album, apart from the dodgy ballads, is like that though. (Why sing ballads, Britney, you can’t sing, you really can’t, yr much better or moaning cod-sensually over some weird faux-Asian synth-strings and an electronic warble bassline. [“Touch Of My Hand” in case you didn’t realise.]) But whatever, “Toxic” is some kind of lesson in weird cybernetic airbrush sexpop, and Britney’s almost complete removal from the actual song (and video, considering the digital effects and image manipulation), the culmination of several years of weird sonic extrapolation on behalf of her varied producers makes it all the more compelling. She’s now not even an image and a voice. She’s a pixel.

Delays – On
Last track on the Graham Sutton-produced debut album by Southampton’s finest fringe-rock psych-pop swoon-bop quartet (there are four, right?). This is like an airy, psychedelic take on house by some kids who heard “Voodoo Ray” and liked it but preferred to dance to Ride.

Engineers – Home
Lush, aquatic debut single by these guys (and, I think, a girl), like really early Verve without the ego.

Predator - Mad Sick
A late-night AIM chat with Dave Stelfox resulted in this being sent over the wires (or through the ether or whatever) along with a few others – Dave’s very good at sending me the odd titbit of dancehall during midnight chats about nothing in particular when we’ve both had a few. This is the least poppy of the last three or four he’s sent me, which include “Never Leave You Lonely” by Mr Vegas and, um, Irishman?- which was good but a touch too sweet for my ears. Whereas “Mad Sick” is proper shouty/growly with a savage pulse.

Fennesz – Circassian
Seems from a distance like stillness but actually builds an inexorable momentum, perpetually rising and moving forward but at incredibly slow speeds. Venice is gonna be firmly ensconced in my top ten come the end of the year, and “Circassian” is maybe the highlight. Embrace fans lulled in by the final two minutes of weird psych-noise which climax “Out Of Nothing” would be advised to download this track and then, after falling in love with its weird absent-presence, sound-is-all approach, go and buy the album.

Girls Aloud - The Show
Not as compelling as Britney because it’s more human, oddly, from the least human band in the UK (I point you towards what Marcello was saying ages ago, what Julie Burchill said, etcetera, about them being PUNK because their identities are totally unimportant to the music), but still a barrage of hooks. It doesn’t even have a verse or a chorus, it’s just hook after hook after hook, a series of refrains running into each other. And the line about hanging “around the kitchen in my underwear” is the best line of the year.

Jadakiss - The Champ Is Here
That guy who beat Tyson? Can’t remember his name. Should have walked out to this.

Jay-Z - Dirt Of Your Shoulder
“99 Problems” seemed to get all the praise and this all the malingering “so whats”, despite the fact that on “99” Jigga is so far off the fucking beat he’s almost back on it again. “Dirt…” is a weak “Hola Hovito” rip (“Hola…” being J’s best moment for me, fucking love it), nothing special from either Jigga or Timbaland, but, you know, I like it.

JC Chasez - Shake It
Had this been on the Jaxx album it would’ve been the best track. JC’s album loses it in the final third as the dodgy ballads come out, but the first ten tracks or so are great, and this is the psychohandjob highlight.

Junior Boys - Teach Me How To Fight
Don’t listen to this record enough, not sure what is the right situation to listen to it, frankly. Restrained emotion seeps through this.

Kelis - Trick Me
Called this out as the best track on Tasty back in October or whenever too, but until Emma told me otherwise I kind of assumed it was Neptunes work. It isn’t, obviously. Less weird than “Milkshake” but probably better. It’s just a fucking good song with a really compelling hook, same as “Good Stuff”.

LCD Soundsystem - Yeah (Crass Version)
THIS IS MAD, THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW. I can’t wait for the album, IF IT EVER COMES.

Lambchop - Nothing Adventurous Please
Of course, not actually adventurous in the scheme of things, but relative (and rock is always relative), this actually is adventurous, being, as it is, not soul or country or hushed ambient acoustic Americana, but actually an actual Rock song.

M.I.A. – Galang
The two follow-ups have been less than inspiring, and the album, supposedly, has been pushed back till 2005 (this is just rumour, if anyone else knows otherwise, use the comments box please!), but the last minute or so of this is still the most joyous thing I’ve heard all year. Claims about her being “the British Kelis” or “the British Missy” are bullshit though.

Method Man ft. Busta - What’s Happenin’
Still love this. Still bought fuck all hip hop from this year.

Nelly - Flap Your Wings
wtf is up with the current single? Was this ever released? Is the current single meant to be subversive? It sounds like Luther fucking Vandross or Lionel fucking Richie, COME THE FUCK ON. This is bizarre and great and tapped in the head, especially when Pharrell goes “umphalumpa”.

Petey Pablo - Get On Dis Motorcycle
This is still odd and still great.

Usher – Yeah
New single is some pussy ballad or something. Heard it once. Heard this a thousand times. The best bit is Luda.

Rachel Stevens - Some Girls
Again, another barrage of hooks, and almost as cybernetic as Britney. Not quite though, which prevents it being properly amazing, and leaves it as merely “a good pop song”. I’m getting bored of writing these now, can you tell?

Wilco - Company In My Back
Lovely guitars over the chorus, best song on the album, NO ONE mentions it, why is this? And Akiva, A Ghost Is Born is really NOT that much about layering melody underneath noise.

The Beta Band - Pure For
Expect something on Stylus about this song soon.

Kanye West
Kanye gets his own bit, because I can’t remember the names of individual tunes and the album as a whole pisses me off (anti-education skits? NICE! You go, boy! You diss anyone interested in learning rather than earning! Cockfarmer…), meaning that none of them made it onto the playlist, but I have to say that taken in isolation the songs that have graced the radio are pretty much all wicked, especially when he pumps up the drama like on that one wot’s about Jesus. Sure, he probably ought to be producing other people because he’s not the greatest rapper in the world, but that doesn’t really matter, especially to someone like me who a; knows nothing about hip hop and b; knows nothing about hip hop.

Stack The Chart Hits High
There are, of course, plenty of other tunes that seem to climb off the radio and slap me about the face, not because I like them or because they’re good, but just because of their sheer fucking ubiquity. Scissor Sisters, for instance, I always hum along to on the radio (hum?- um, sing, OK) but have no desire to even download. Likewise the two Franz Ferdinand singles which went mental (“Take Me Out” and that one about the matinee?), both mega radio listening but no impetus to buy the album or even listen to the downloaded copy I have (I was going to review it but… didn’t). Likewise Goldie Lookin’ Chain and all those singles that Swygart has raved about on his chart rundown column at Stylus which I hear once by accident whilst driving and can never remember anything about. EXCEPT for The Killers, if he has raved about them, which he might not. The new one is OK, but “Indie Rock N Roll For Me” is fucking putrid, like “All I Wanna Do Is Rock” by Travis but for people with serious fucking authenticity and inferiority issues. Nasty little song.

NJS

8/18/2004 10:46:00 am

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous - 11:35 pm

Why do you do yr's?

C.

 
Blogger Nick - 11:37 pm

Why do I do my what? This list? So that in December I can go back and crib it for the Stylus polls.

 
Blogger Andrew Unterberger - 8:22 am

haha, you said something positive about that Nelly single.

 
Blogger Nick - 8:50 am

I fucking did not!

 
Blogger Andrew Unterberger - 6:34 am

"This is bizarre and great and tapped in the head, especially when Pharrell goes “umphalumpa”."

sounds positive.

 
Blogger Nick - 8:52 am

Yeah, "Flap Your Wings", because it is great! Not that shitty Luther Vandross one.

 
Blogger Andrew Unterberger - 7:53 am

You act as if that technicality excuses the silliness of your comments.

 

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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com


All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005